The case against Vijender Singh, who won middleweight bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is strange because officially the police are yet to file a case against him.
In the wake of allegations about of his involvement with drugs, the pin-up boy of Indian boxing hasn’t been able to train for over four weeks now and that will definitely impact his performances in the ring too.
The controversy stems from the recovery of 26 kg of heroin worth Rs 130 crore from the residence of alleged drug peddler and NRI Anoop Singh Kahlon. Ram Singh, Vijender’s sparring partner and room-mate, and seven others were arrested and questioned by the Punjab Police.
During investigations the role of Punjab police Head Constable and boxer Ram Singh and others in procuring heroin was conclusively established. But the police still have nothing on Vijender.
The boxer was quizzed by the police on his links with Kahlon and about the SUV registered in the name of his wife, Archana, which was found near the NRI’s residence. But he refused to voluntarily give samples of his blood and hair during the process of questioning.
The case then seemed to die down until a few days back when the police released a statement which among other things mentioned that Vijender spoke to the alleged drug dealer 80 times. They also said that Vijender and his sparring partner Ram Singh had consumed heroin at least 12 times and 5 times, respectively.
And then to queer the pitch, Deputy Inspector General (Ludhiana range) M F Farooqui added that police have got “nothing from the possession of Vijender” and the probe was still on. If they do have enough circumstantial evidence, then it should be enough to bring him in for another round of questioning.
Now, Abhishek Matoria, President, Indian Amateur Boxing Federation has asked Vijender to come clean to submit to the tests. While NADA have come out and said that they will only do a routine out-of-competition test – and they will not check for heroin.
Athletes are normally only tested for recreational drugs during events, while out-of-competition tests are conducted for performance-enhancing substances.
And oddly enough all of this is happening without a case being registered against him. Now, the Punjab police may be doing this to up the pressure on him but even then they have no real business accusing him of things they cannot prove.
To say that the probe is still on and then to make the findings public suggests that there is something amiss at many levels. Now, Vijender may indeed be guilty of consuming heroin but consumption is not a crime – over the years many sportsmen have been guilty of it and it certainly is not a performance enhancing drug.
So unless the police can prove that he was part of the distribution racket as well, they won’t really be able to get the case to stick. For the moment though, they aren't going about things in the best possible way either.