India's National Anti-Doping Agency To Test Olympic Boxer Accused Of Using Heroin
The Indian Sports Ministry directed the National Anti-Doping Agency "to immediately carry out dope tests on star boxer Vijender Singh, who has been accused of consuming heroin by Punjab Police," according to the PTI. Almost a month after Vijender's name surfaced in the drug scandal, the Sports Ministry stepped in to clear the issue "by subjecting the ace pugilist to dope tests." A press release issued by the Sports Ministry said, "Such reports in respect of a sporting icon are disturbing and may have a debilitating influence on other sportspersons in the country." Vijender "has denied having consumed heroin" and could not immeditialy be reached for comments (PTI, 4/1). The PTI also reported Indian boxing coach G. S. Sandhu "advised Vijender to give samples of his hair and blood to the investigating agencies." Punjab Police "have collected the hair and blood samples of boxer Ram Singh, a sparring partner of Vijender, in the drug haul case." Police had claimed Vijender and Ram Singh allegedly procured the drug from alleged drug dealers Anoop Singh Kahlon and Rocky for personal consumption as "fun" (PTI, 4/1).
IMAGE TAINTED: IANS reported Singh's alleged involvement in drugs will hit his "iconic" image and hamper the growth of boxing in the country. Vijender "has been the face of Indian boxing ever since he won a historic Bronze" at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 2010 Asian Games gold medallist boxer Vikas Krishan said, "He was a role model for some of the boxers. If the drug reports are true, it is bound to have a negative impact on the current and future boxers. It is going to have a bearing on India's image in the boxing world as well." India Amateur Boxing Federation "is reluctant to comment on the issue." IABF President Abhishek Matoria said, "We take the police's claims seriously, but it is still not the final word" (IANS, 4/1).