Chandigarh: The Punjab Police are reportedly preparing to move court to get samples of Vijender Singh's hair and blood, after the national anti-doping agency or NADA refused a Sports Ministry request last evening to test the star boxer for heroin, citing a technicality. The police allege that Vijender bought and used heroin 12 times in the last few months, but need him tested to substantiate their claims.
Here are 10 developments in this story:
- Punjab Police sources said hair and blood tests can prove heroin abuse within six months of the drug being consumed and they want the court to intervene to get the samples they need from Vijender. The police are also looking for a forensic testing facility.
- Testing is a complex procedure, which will require Vijender to be present at the forensic lab. The Olympian denies all allegations of drug abuse, but has refused to give samples for testing.
- The Sports Ministry had yesterday asked NADA to test Vijender for heroin, but the agency refused saying protocol does not allow it to test an athlete for heroin when he is not training for competition. Heroin, said senior NADA officials, is not on the prohibited list for out-of-competition athletes.
- NADA chief Mukul Chatterjee said, "Heroin is a banned drug, but an athlete can be punished only if he tests positive in 'in-competition' testing," adding, "Vijender is not training for any competition these days, so he cannot be penalised."
- The agency is however agreeable to testing Vijender for other drugs. NADA officials said a substance test on Vijender was due and they would conduct that. The last random dope test on Vijender happened in July 2012, they added.
- The Sports Ministry has described the allegations against the boxer as "disturbing and debilitating" and said, "it has, therefore, been considered necessary that NADA gets a test carried out on Vijender for his reported use of heroin even out-of-competition."
- Indian boxing coach OP Bhardwaj today sought to play the matter down, saying there was no need to approach NADA since Vijender was not participating in a competition.
- The Punjab Police alleges that Vijender, who won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, procured heroin on 12 occasions from alleged Canada-based dealer Anoop Singh Kahlon between December and February. It has reportedly based this on the interrogation of Kahlon and Vijender's sparring partner Ram Singh and on phone call records.
- A massive drug bust last month led to the arrest of the alleged dealer Kahlon. Police had seized 26 kilograms of heroin with a street value of Rs. 130 crores from his residence. Kahlon, they allege, is part of an international drug smuggling cartel.
- Vijender was linked to the haul after a car belonging to his wife was found outside the residence of the alleged dealer near Chandigarh. The police have alleged that Vijender knew Kahlon well and had exchanged several phone calls and SMSes with him since August last year. The police have, however, also said that investigations show Vijender had nothing to do with the drug dealer's business activities.