By Tom Degun

Vijender SinghApril 2 - Beijing 2008 bronze medallist Vijender Singh has caused a huge row between the Indian Sports Ministry and the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) after allegedly taking heroin.

The 27-year-old middleweight fighter from Haryana shot to stardom after becoming the first ever Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal.

But his golden boy status in his home country has been rocked after police in India's Punjab state alleged he consumed heroin after procuring it from alleged drug smugglers.

Last month the police seized 26 kilogram of heroin with a street value of £16 million ($24 million/€18 million) as 15 people, including Singh, were arrested.

Singh has denied the charge despite the Punjab Police describing him as the main suspect and claiming that he "had consumed the drug [heroin] about 12-times and [his sparring partner] Ram Singh about five times" between last December and February.

The police are reportedly preparing to get permission from a court to get samples of the boxer's hair and blood but the issue has magnified after the NADA turned down a request from the Sports Ministry to test Singh for heroin as they claimed it was against their own protocol and the protocol of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to test him at this time.

"We will not be testing Vijender for heroin," said NADA director-general Mukul Chatterjee.

"We will strictly go by the NADA and WADA Code.

"We are independent and will strictly follow the protocol for out-of-competition testing of an athlete irrespective of what the Sports Ministry has said.

"There is no time frame in the letter which we have received from the Ministry, we will undertake the test when NADA finds it appropriate.

"NADA can't go against the WADA code.

"The blood and urine test will be strictly conducted under the WADA code and the NADA rules.

"We cannot contradict the Sports Ministry as well as we are being funded by the Government.

"The last test which we did on him was in July-August 2012, it was negative.

"In the WADA list of prohibited substances for out-of-competition, heroin is not there.

"It's correct that traces of heroin can be found out in a hair sample for a period of more than three months."
Vijender Singh 2Vijender Singh just missed out on a medal at the London 2012 Olympics after he was eliminated in the quarter-final

Indian Sports Secretary PK Deb has vented his frustration at the decision but said the Ministry will wait for a written response before reacting.

"We have not asked NADA to proclaim anything on his guilt but just conduct a test to find out whether he took heroin," he said.

"The NADA has not conveyed anything to us in writing.

"Let them do that first and then we will think of our stand."

Singh,who reached the quarter-final at the London 2012 Olympics, is currently eligible to complete in International Boxing Association (AIBA) competition but only under the under the AIBA flag.

This is because the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) are currently suspended by AIBA for possible manipulation in their elections last year.

However, they have advised Singh, winner of the gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, to cooperate in the matter.

"He should submit his samples if he is being asked and come out clean," said the IABF's suspended President Abhishek Matoria.

"We are in touch with him and he has maintained his innocence."

Mallika Sherawat with Vijendra SinghVijender Sing has become a media celebrity since winning his Olympic bronze medal, appearing on television shows alongside the likes of Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat

India is a transshipment point for heroin from Southwest Asian countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan and from Southeast Asian countries like Burma, Laos, and Thailand.

The controversy is set to badly damage Singh's status as a pin-up in India, which has seen him appear on several popular television shows, alongside some of the country's most beautiful women, including Bollywood actresses Amrita Rao, Mallika Sherawat and Nach Baliye.  

AIBA have informed insidethegames that they have nothing to say at this stage but they are understood to be monitoring the issue closely.

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