Quite a difference in cultures. Bud Selig, captain of the ship when USA Major League Baseball cruised through a 'steroid era' continues in power and continues to rake in tens of millions of salary dollars. Meanwhile a venerable Japanese sumo wrestler, presiding over the national sport reigns in disgrace when two Russian sumo wrestlers possess marijuana. To the IHT for the summary: (further update with the Guardian; the Russians were the first sumo wrestlers expelled for life)
Two popular Russian sumo wrestlers were slapped with lifetime bans from Japan's ancient national sport for allegedly using marijuana and the head of the Japan Sumo Association resigned Monday to take responsibility for the scandal, officials said.
The wrestlers, brothers Roho and Hakurozan, tested positive for the drug when the sport conducted its first drug tests following the last month of another Russian wrestler, Wakanoho, for marijuana possession.
The scandal has rocked the sumo world, which has its roots in religious ritual and tends to hold its athletes and officials to high moral standards. Marijuana possession is considered a serious offense in Japan, and the scandal has been front-page news.
High moral standards...not astronomical economic booties.
The punishment was handed out at an emergency meeting of top sumo officials Monday, according to the Japan Sumo Association.
Kitanoumi, the association's chairman and Hakurozan's mentor, also told the meeting that he would resign to take responsibility. Kitanoumi is a former grand champion wrestler who is considered by many to have been one of the best ever.
"It was my decision to resign," Kitanoumi said. He will be replaced by another former wrestler, Musashigawa.
Understand that Kitanoumi did nothing wrong. He apparently believed his sumo wrestlers -- considered men of honor -- about drug use. However the standard of integrity he must uphold were violated.
"I am filled with remorse because it was my responsibility to keep an eye on my wrestlers at all times," Kitanoumi, 55, told reporters. "They denied [smoking marijuana] and I believed them."
How different than Mr. who might be considered an enabler for drug use in the USA's MLB.
From the IHT, a summary of how the crisis developed:
Sumo's current crisis began last month with the arrest and subsequent lifetime ban on Wakanoho, whom police said had a small amount of marijuana in his wallet.
Wakanoho was the first wrestler ever to be ejected from sumo for drug use. His real name is listed by the sumo association as Soslan Aleksandrovich Gagloev.
The association then held tests on all 69 of its top two division wrestlers and found Roho and Hakurozan positive for the drug.
A second test was done by a Japanese laboratory internationally certified to conduct doping tests, Mitsubishi Chemical Medience Corp. Results released Friday showed the two consumed the drug in amounts far beyond what could be inhaled from secondhand smoke, sumo association spokesman Yuichi Ida said.
Roho, whose real name was listed by the association as Boradzov Soslan Feliksovich, is in sumo's top division, while Hakurozan — who was listed as Baradzov Batraz Feliksovich — is in the next-highest tier.
Roho and Hakurozan have repeatedly denied using the drug.
Kitanoumi said he had been assured by Hakurozan that he had not used marijuana.
"He had told me he had not used it, and I believed him," he said.
Police have questioned the two wrestlers and searched their rooms. It was not immediately clear if any further legal action would be taken. Unlike possessing or selling the drug, it is not illegal to be found to have used it.