Sumo: Top dog Asashoryu refuses to take bus amid flu scare
Mon, Aug 24, 2009

TOKYO, Japan - Controversial sumo champion Asashoryu is in hot water again after skipping training because he did not want to risk catching the H1N1 flu on a bus.

The Mongolian 'yokozuna' told Monday's Japanese media he would take the matter up with the wrestlers' union after being reprimanded for a morning no-show at the weekend.

"(The infected wrestlers) were on the same bus which was a reason," said Asashoryu, adding that the Japan Sumo Association (JSA) had done little to protect wrestlers from infection.

"What they say and what they do are two different things. I want them to think hard to come up with a way to protect us (from risk)."

Around 30 wrestlers and sumo officials have caught the flu over the past 10 days.

Wrestlers and sumo fans have been wearing flu masks as a precaution against the outbreak.

"Our livelihoods are at stake here," fumed the 28-year-old Asashoryu.

"I'll be taking it up with the union."

The JSA declined to give immediate comment.

Asashoryu was criticised for skipping morning training ahead of a major tournament in Nagoya recently amid the break-up of his marriage.

The 23-times Emperor's Cup winner insisted an elbow injury made it hard for him to practice on the current provincial sumo tour of Japan.

In 2007, Asashoryu was banned after being caught playing soccer in Mongolia, after forging a doctor's note for a sore back.

His suspension triggered a bout of clinical depression, leading Asashoryu to seek solace at a luxury spa resort in his native country. --REUTERS

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