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Japan’s Equestrian Board Resigns

July 12, 1999

TOKYO (AP) _ Most of Japan’s equestrian board resigned Monday in the aftermath of an investigation in which it was found that federation executives accepted a $29,000 payment from an Olympic rider.

Nineteen of the Japanese Equestrian Federation’s 20 executive board members, including president Shozo Hara, submitted their resignations at a meeting, according to Takashi Fujita, a federation official.

The board members decided to step down to take ``moral responsibility for causing a stir in society,″ said Fujita.

The 20th member was traveling overseas and unable to attend the meeting but was also expected to resign.

The federation again denied that the payment from Yoshinaga Sakurai was a bribe to secure his place on the 1992 Olympic squad, Fujita said.

The federation carried out an investigation after the national Mainichi newspaper reported Sakurai’s payment last week.

Responding to that report, federation president Hara said the money comprised a gift, payments for a training camp and a loan. He denied that the money influenced team selection.

Sakurai also denied that the cash was intended to get him a berth on the Barcelona Olympics squad.

The resignations will be accepted at a general meeting to be held at a later date, Fujita said.

Those resigning included two of the three federation members _ vice chairman Hiroshi Gotoh and head of judges Eizo Osaka _ who received money from Sakurai. The third member who received money, Shoji Murakami, an editor for the federation magazine, was not a member of the board but also resigned, Fujita said.

The federation issued a ``serious warning″ to Sakurai.

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