New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) Beijing Games bronze medallist Vijender Singh's alleged involvement in drugs will hit his 'iconic' image and hamper the growth of boxing in the country, say his contemporaries and juniors a day after Punjab Police claimed that the star boxer took heroin 12 times.
Vijender, who is a deputy superintendent in Haryana Police, has been the face of Indian boxing ever since he won a historic bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"He was a role model for some of the boxers. If the drug reports are true, it is bound to have a negative impact on the current and future boxers. It is going to have a bearing on India's image in the boxing world as well," 2010 Asian Games gold medallist boxer Vikas Krishan told IANS.
Krishan hails from Vijender's hometown Bhiwani, in Haryana.
Akhil Kumar, best known for his gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, feels that Vijender ceases to be a role model after being involved in drug consumption with his sparring partner Ram Singh who, according to reports, took heroin five times.
"It is unfortunate. But this is what happens when you can't handle sudden fame and fortune. Only the mighty rich can indulge in all these pleasures," Akhil, whose career-path went downhill as Vijender attained stardom, told IANS.
"A sportsperson is supposed to carry himself with dignity all his life. If he is caught doing something wrong, he ceases to be a role model," he added.
Despite Punjab Police's revelations, India Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) is reluctant to comment on the issue.
"We take the police's claims seriously but it is still not the final word. We would like to make a comment once everything comes out in black and white. I will soon be talking to Vijender and ask him what is going on in his mind," said IABF president Abhishek Matoria.