India's Olympic hero Vijender Singh, who finds himself at the centre of a drug scandal, on Wednesday made himself available for an out-of-competition dope test by NADA officials, apparently under pressure from the sports ministry.
After refusing to undergo tests ever since the scandal
broke out about a month back, the boxer's urine and blood samples were taken this morning but it is learnt that the tests will not be specifically for heroin.
The news that Vijender, who had virtually gone underground, took the dope tests today was disclosed by sports minister Jitendra Singh, who also advised the boxer to go for a rehabilitation if found guilty.
"NADA has taken Vijender's samples in the morning. The blood and urine samples of Vijender and other boxers have been taken.
"I will wait for the results before deciding on any action. I don't want to speculate. But even if Vijender has made a mistake, he should of course be punished or penalised, but after that his rehabilitation should start," he said.
"We need to see that our sportspersons are rehabilitated so they could perform," the Minister added.
A top NADA official confirmed that Vijender's urine and blood samples were taken today but refused to elaborate further.
The NADA, which is an autonomous body, was willing to conduct a regular out-of-competition dope test on Vijender but had expressed its inability to test the Olympic bronze-medallist for heroin citing World Anti-Doping Agency's protocol.
"The WADA doesn't stop the Ministry from asking to conduct a test," Jitendra said.
The Ministry had stepped on Monday to clear the air on the controversy but NADA's stand meant that even a dope test would not give any conclusive evidence against Vijender, who has maintained a stoic silence after his initial denial.
There was still some confusion on exactly what tests have been done since both sports ministry and NADA officials are tight-lipped on the matter, citing WADA regulations.
"We cannot talk on this since it is a confidential matter. As per WADA rules we cannot disclose what tests we are conducting," a NADA official said when asked whether Vijender would be tested for heroin.
The 27-year-old Khel Ratna awardee had been adamant in refusing to give blood and hair samples for testing after being named by his sparring partner Ram Singh and heroin racket's alleged kingpin Anoop Singh Kahlon, who was arrested last month by Punjab Police.
Vijender's name cropped up when his wife's car was found outside the Zirakpur flat from where heroin worth Rs. 130 crore was recovered and Ram admitted to consuming drugs with him.
The former world number one middleweight boxer issued a statement initially denying that he took drugs but refused to give his blood and hair samples when asked by Punjab Police during a nearly two-hour interrogation more than a fortnight back.
Even though he had not been tested, the Punjab Police had gone on to claim that Vijender consumed heroin 12 times after procuring it from alleged drug smugglers including Kahlon.
"As per investigation conducted so far, Vijender Singh consumed the drug about 12 times and Ram Singh (his sparring partner) about five times," a Punjab Police statement had stated without specifying the basis of the findings.
Kahlon alias Ruby, the alleged Canada-based drug dealer, was arrested by police on March 3 and 26kg heroin was seized from his residence in Zirakpur on the outskirts of Chandigarh.
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