Japan police go after wrestlers in sumo scandal

Japanese police for the first time ever Tuesday sought criminal prosecutions of nine sumo wrestlers and sports figures in a damaging scandal over illegal gambling and yakuza mob ties.The ancient and highly ritualistic national sport is already under the spotlight after news of illegal drug use, brutal training methods and in recent weeks claims of bout-rigging.Police handed files to prosecutors outlining claims that five active wrestlers, three patrons or financial supporters, and one member of a crime syndicate were involved in gambling on baseball games, the Sankei daily said.Betting in Japan is allowed only on horse racing and some motor sports.Prosecutors must now decide whether to indict and try the nine, who were not named by police or in Japanese media reports.It is the first time in the history of sumo — a sport which dates back some 1,500 years — that Japanese police handed over a case to prosecutors against serving sumo wrestlers, local media said.

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