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Thursday, Feb. 1, 2007

Asashoryu dismisses bout-fixing allegations

Kyodo News

Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu on Tuesday categorically denied claims in a report in a weekly magazine that he fixed sumo matches.

Asashoryu was questioned by the Japan Sumo Association for about 30 minutes at Ryogoku Kokugikan and flatly denied a claim in the Shukan Gendai weekly that he has been rigging his bouts.

The report quoted a wrestler as saying Asashoryu, who recently won his 20th Emperor's Cup, pays money to other wrestlers to lose so he can win titles.

Chief supervisor Tomozuna was among the JSA officials questioning the yokozuna.

"I have never done anything like that. Since I was an ozeki they have written stuff about me, but I am not guilty of anything," Asashoryu said.

"It is really upsetting and terribly sad that after getting my 20th title victory, they write something like this. I bet my life on sumo, and I'll continue to give it my all," he said.

Asked about the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the magazine, Asashoryu said, "I cannot stand anymore of this. I bet I will (file a lawsuit)."

The JSA questioned Chiyotaikai, Kaio, Bulgarian Kotooshu and Tochiazuma on Monday, and each of the four ozeki claimed the report was nonsense.

The bout-rigging allegations centered on last November's Kyushu tournament. Mongolian ozeki Hakuho was not called for questioning as he missed the whole of that meet with a broken toe.

Some critics say it is possible that allegations of match-fixing surfaced because of Asashoryu's recent sudden drop in training and his coziness with some of the lower-ranked wrestlers.

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