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Ex-baseball star Kiyohara pleads guilty to stimulant drug use, offers apology

Kazuhiro Kiyohara
Kazuhiro Kiyohara

TOKYO (TR) – At the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday, former professional baseball player Kazuhiro Kiyohara, 48, pleaded guilty to drug offenses and offered an apology for his actions, reports the Asahi Shimbun (May 17).

Prosecutors are seeking a 30-month prison sentence for the use and possession of stimulant drugs by Kiyohara, who anchored the middle of lineups for multiple Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) clubs before turning to sports commentary in retirement.

“There is no mistake,” Kiyohara told the court in admitting to the charges.

The prosecution said the former member of the Yomiuri Giants and Seibu Lions began using kakuseizai, or stimulant drugs, as a form of stress relief around 2008, the year he retired from baseball.

On February 2, Kiyohara was first arrested for possession of stimulant drugs after a search of his residence in Minato Ward revealed 0.1 grams of the illegal substances. He was arrested again for the use of illegal drugs later that month.

Police also arrested the ex-slugger’s suspected dealer. Kazuyuki Kobayashi was taken into custody over the alleged sale of 1.2 grams of stimulant drugs to Kiyohara for 80,000 yen at a at a hotel in Gunma Prefecture on September 1 of last year.

Over his 22-year career, Kiyohara established himself as one of NPB’s greatest power hitters. In his first season with the Lions in 1986, he slugged 31 home runs and was awarded Rookie of the Year honors. He ended his career with 525 home runs, which ranks fifth in NPB history.

Kiyohara remains a popular figure in the sports world. On Tuesday morning, nearly 3,800 fans gathered in Hibiya Park to apply for the 20 available seats in the court’s visitor’s gallery.

“I’m sorry to the boys who aspire to become professional baseball players, and I’m sorry for betraying the baseball world,” a teary-eyed Kiyohara told the court, according to Nippon News Network (May 17).

The Tokyo District Court is expected to hand down a ruling in the case on May 31.