By Tom Degun

Vijender Singh in boxing poseApril 5 - Indian boxer Vijender Singh has taken a drugs test following allegations he took heroin brought from alleged smugglers.

The 27-year-old middleweight fighter from Haryana became a huge star in his country after claiming a bronze medal at Beijing 2008 to win India's first-ever Olympic medal in the sport.

The achievement saw him given the country's highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, while he has endorsed big brand names and made regular appearances on reality television shows and at Bollywood parties.

His reputation, however, has been left in tatters after police in India's Punjab state alleged he consumed heroin after procuring it from alleged drug smugglers.

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

Singh has protested his innocence and denied charges although he originally refused to take a dope test while the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) said they would not test him because it was against their own protocol despite pressure from the Sports Ministry.

But Singh has finally agreed to give samples and the NADA have now taken blood and urine samples from the boxer.

"The blood and urine samples of Vijender and other boxers have been taken," said Sports Minister Jitendra Singh.

"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."
Vijender Singh 3Vijender Singh just missed out on a medal at the London 2012 Olympics after he was eliminated in the quarter-final

Meanwhile Punjab police said the boxer's sparring partner Ram Singh had been arrested.

They allege they had recovered 5kg of a drug from the home of one of his relatives.

A few days ago, the police said in a statement that investigations had revealed that Vijender Singh "had consumed heroin about 12 times and Ram Singh about five times" between last December and February.

Singh has been dropped from upcoming tournaments in Cyprus and Cuba although the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF), currently suspended by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) for possible manipulation in their elections last year, say he is still involved with the team.

"Vijender is not out of the team, but he will not participate in the tournaments in Cyprus and Cuba," said IABF President Abhishek Matoria.

"I have been in constant touch with Vijender and he has assured me that he does not have any involvement with drugs.

"He has told me that he will come out clean from the enquiry.

"At the moment, Vijender is under severe pressure.

"He is hopeful of being given a clean chit in the next ten days or so and then he will get back to boxing.

"Vijender is very much an important part of the Indian boxing fraternity."

Singh's last major tournament was the London 2012 Olympics, where he just missed out on a medal after he was eliminated in the quarter-final.

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