The drug scandal surrounding Vijender Singh on Tuesday took a new twist with one of his fellow pugilists Dinesh Kumar disputing the claims of Punjab Police even as the Sports Ministry explored ways to subject the star boxer to a heroin test despite NADA's refusal to do so.
Almost a month after the scandal broke out, Dinesh, an Asian Games silver medallist, claimed that Punjab Police planted Vijender's car outside the flat from where heroin was recovered.
Contradicting the Punjab Police version, Dinesh said that he and one of his friends had accompanied Ram Singh at the police station but the policemen asked them to go and leave the car behind which was later found at Zirakpur.
"Me and a fellow boxer Bunty accompanied Ram Singh to Fatehgarh Sahib police station in the car which the police claim was found outside the flat. When we reached there, the police told us that Ram would have to be questioned," Dinesh told PTI.
"The policemen insisted that we leave the car at the station only. We objected to it and told them that the car was not ours and had to be taken back to Patiala but they forced us to leave the car at the station and told us to go back," he said.
The Sports Ministry, which had yesterday stepped in to clear the air by asking NADA to test the boxer, was waiting for a written response before deciding its future course of action.
The NADA, which is an autonomous body, is willing to conduct a regular out-of-competition dope test on Vijender but has expressed its inability to test the Olympic bronze-medallist for heroin citing World Anti-Doping Agency's protocol.
"We have not asked NADA to proclaim anything on his guilt but just conduct a test to find out whether he took heroin... the NADA has not conveyed anything to us in writing, let them do that first and then we will think of our stand," Sports Secretary P K Deb told PTI
However, a top official in the Ministry said that they were keen to get a heroin test done on the boxer who has been funded by the government. "The government spends a lot on these boxers for their training. It is only fair that we should know the truth. If somebody is found guilty, strict action should be taken," the official said.
NADA's stand not to conduct a heroin test means that even a dope test would not give any conclusive evidence against Vijender, who has maintained a stoic silence after his initial denial.
"We will not be testing Vijender for heroin. 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," NADA director-general Mukul Chatterjee told PTI.
"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," he said.
Chatterjee said the dope test would be conducted on the boxer as per NADA's discretion.
"We never disclose to anyone when and where the test will be conducted. This is prohibited under the WADA code. The last test which we did on him was in July-August 2012, it was negative," he said.
On the other hand, despite mounting pressure, Vijender has kept mum on the scandal which is snowballing into a career-threatening controversy for him.
The Indian Boxing Federation, which itself is in doldrums after being suspended by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) for "possible manipulation" in elections, has advised Vijender to come clean on the matter.
"He should submit his samples if he is being asked and come out clean. We are in touch with him and he has maintained his innocence," said the suspended IBF's President Abhishek Matoria.