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Updated at 6:41 a.m., Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sumo: Yokozuna Asashoryu suspended for two tourneys

Associated Press

TOKYO — The Japan Sumo Association suspended Mongolian-born grand champion Asashoryu today from the next two tournaments for playing soccer after saying he would sit out the summer exhibition tournament for injuries.

Asashoryu will be suspended from the September and November tournaments and will receive a 30 percent pay cut for four months, Yukishige Isenoumi, a senior Japan Sumo Association official, told a nationally televised press conference.

"For a yokozuna, this was a serious indiscretion. Given that a yokozuna should act as a good example for the other wrestlers, this punishment for his action is appropriate," Isenoumi said.

It was the first time a yokozuna has been suspended.

The punishment came after the 26-year-old yokozuna was found playing soccer late last month in a charity event in his home country.

Asashoryu, whose real name is Dolgorsuren Dagvadorj, had told the association he would sit out the Aug. 3-20 summer exhibition tour in northern Japan because of the damaged ligament on his left elbow and the stress fracture of the fifth vertebrae.

He returned to Mongolia for treatment after winning his 21st Emperor's Cup at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on July 22.

The Embassy of Mongolia in Japan said it asked Asashoryu to attend the event hosted by the Mongolian government as his homecoming trip coincided with the charity match attended by Hidetoshi Nakata, a retired and still popular Japanese soccer player.

The embassy apologized in a statement released Tuesday saying it had meant to ask the grand champion just to attend, but he "eventually had no other choice but to play soccer."