translated by Brett Larner
In response to a marijuana scandal at a training facility in Yokohama involving a now-expelled pole vaulter on Nittai University's track and field team, the Kanto Regional University Track and Field Association headed by Yoshiyuki Aoba informed Nittai on Apr. 15 that the school's long distance ekiden squad will lose its seeded position in next year's Hakone Ekiden. Additionally, Nittai's entire track and field team must suspend all activity for the next three months. Nittai University officials accepted the decision. An official with the Kanto Association commented, "I've never heard of a school being stripped of its Hakone seed like this before."
Nittai University had already placed the 46 members of its track and field team's pole vault and jump squad on indefinite suspension as of Mar. 26 and afterwards suspended the rest of the track and field team through the end of April. The school also elected to dismantle some of its pole vault and jump training facilities. Nittai's ekiden team has won the Hakone Ekiden nine times, including a remarkable five-year streak in the late 60's and early 70's. It finished 3rd at this year's Hakone to earn a seeded position for next year's championship, but after being stripped of its seed the team must try to requalify at October's Yosenkai 20 km Road Race.
Translator's note: It is worth noting again that the pole vaulter in question was neither arrested nor charged by police as they found no evidence to charge him with criminal activities. The new three-month suspension period includes the entire spring track season, the Kanto Regional University Track and Field Championships, the qualifying race for the National University Ekiden Championships, and the National Track and Field Championships. The school's monthly Nittai Time Trials series, the key spring track series in the Tokyo region and nationwide for professional, university, high school and serious amateur runners alike, has also been suspended. See these articles for additional background on this unfortunate case: