Japan's reputation in the world of sports has been body slammed by a gambling scandal that has knocked live sumo wrestling off Japan's public TV broadcaster NHK.
Dozens of sumo's top wrestlers and coaches allegedly have wagered as much as $50,000 on professional baseball in Japan. It has generated such viewer disgust that the ancient national sport is facing its worst crisis in a century.
This would be like Pete Rose getting caught betting on American baseball. Well, at least Rose didn't compete in a diaper.
Kotomitsuki, 34, who holds the sport's second-highest rank, revealed last month he bet on professional baseball. Otake, a former wrestler, has admitted running up betting debts of more than $50,000.
A Japan Sumo Association survey last month found at least 65 of its members had been involved in illegal gambling. It's likely they bet on teams that were, uh, heavy favorites.
The betting comes on the heels of the sport's top wrestler, Asashoryu of Mongolia, resigning after drunken misbehavior, the criminal punishment of a coach for a deadly hazing incident and the expulsion of several stars for marijuana use.
Use of marijuana, which can lead to eating binges, is considered a performance-enhancing drug in sumo.
No one has accused sumo of a cover-up, though trunks would be preferred to cotton G-strings.
STAFF and WIRE REPORTS
COMPILED BY JEFF WOLF LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Jul. 07, 2010
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LEFTOVERS: Bet on it: Sumo faces heavy crisis