Boxing: Indian police to summon boxer over drugs haul

Indian police said Sunday it will question Olympic bronze-medallist boxer Vijender Singh over alleged links to a man who was arrested after heroin worth $24 million was seized from his house.

Police said the arrested man had named Vijender and fellow boxer Ram Singh, both unrelated, as his "clients".

"It is crucial for us to question Vijender Singh because the peddler has named the boxer as his client. Even Vijender's friend, Ram Singh has told us that they were both using heroin," senior officer H.S. Mann told AFP.

Police seized 26 kilograms (57 pounds) of heroin worth 1.3 billion rupees ($24 million) from the alleged peddler in the northern state of Punjab. He was arrested along with five others, including an Indian man based in Canada.

Mann, who heads the investigation, said Vijender will be summoned next week. The star boxer has strongly denied links with the alleged peddler, slamming the "ridiculous charges" against him.

He won a bronze medal in the middleweight category at the 2008 Beijing Games. His achievement helped raise boxing's profile in India.

Ram Singh, who is a super heavyweight boxer, told reporters that both he and Vijender had "experimented with drugs thinking that they were food supplements".

"We did not know that we were taking drugs. We were told that we were consuming food supplements meant to increase strength and stamina," he said.

There have been a number of major drug seizures in Punjab in recent years. A Punjab university study in 2011 suggested that up to 70 percent of the state's youth were addicted to drugs or alcohol.

rn/ac