Police are investigating allegations that sumo wrestler Osunaarashi was driving without a license and caused a rear-end collision in Nagano Prefecture early this month, investigative sources said.

However, the 25-year-old Egyptian said his pregnant wife was driving the vehicle, according to his lawyer.

As the investigation continues, Osunaarashi is expected to withdraw from the 15-day New Year Grand Sumo Tournament, now under way in Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, on Jan. 22, the ninth day.

According to the sources, the accident occurred in Yamanouchi in the northeastern part of Nagano Prefecture on Jan. 3. Osunaarashi and his wife, who is also Egyptian, were visiting the area for leisure activities.

Immediately after the crash, his wife told police that she was behind the wheel of the car. However, police suspect the sumo wrestler was the driver based on footage taken by security cameras, the sources said.

Osunaarashi, who is currently in the second highest juryo division, was questioned by the Japan Sumo Association in its investigation on the night of Jan. 21.

“The owner of the car is my wife. My pregnant wife caused the accident,” JSA officials quoted Osunaarashi as saying. “To cover up for her, I moved to the driver’s seat.”

He has already paid compensation for the damage to the other car, the officials said.

Osunaarashi has neither a Japanese driver’s license nor an international one, his lawyer said.

He also did not report the accident to either the association or his stablemaster, Otake.

In addition, the Japan Sumo Association prohibits active wrestlers from driving cars. Osunaarashi has written a pledge to follow the JSA’s rule, the association said.

Osunaarashi, the first sumo wrestler from Africa, had previously been promoted to maegashira No. 1 in the top makuuchi division.

The allegations deal another blow to the sumo world, which was recently rocked by a scandal over former yokozuna Harumafuji’s beating of another wrestler during a drinking session.