Shamya Dasgupta, author of 'Bhiwani Junction', joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the recent drug scandal affecting the image of Indian boxing.
Q. You know, it's not the drugs angle I find difficult to believe, but that it's heroin. Doesn't seem like the right drug for an ambitious sportsman. Or do you think he might have believed himself to be finished? Asked by: Aarohi S.
A. Correct, Aarohi, heroin is certainly not the right drug for a sportsperson. Even occasional or short-term use, from what I know of heroin, is pointless. It doesn't do anything that helps the performance. To the other part of your question: I don't think so at all. The Vijender I know is extremely ambitious and has plans of entering pro boxing at the end of his amateur career, and has every plan of giving the Rio Olympics in 2016 a shot.
Q. Sir, Are you considering a sequel to your book covering these incidents/scandals? Surely it is good material for blockbuster. Asked by: Jeetlal, Jodhpur Park
A. I do plan to update 'Bhiwani Junction' prior to the 2016 Olympics (publishers willing), and that must include all that happens between 2012 and 2016. A blockbuster - not likely.
Q. You are a boxing expert, Shamya. Tell us, did Vijender have it in him to compete in one more Olympics? If he has experimented with drugs, he is an individual who needs to be dealt with law. Celebrities often get roped into controversy, hopefully he will come clean. Asked by: Inder from Indore
A. Yes, hopefully he will come clean. Remember, nothing has been proven yet. Give it time. Let law take its course. And yes, Inder, I do think Vijender has another OG in him.
Q. Sir, I am big fan of you. I am big fan of Vijender. Why are all heroes falling down? Armstrong, Woods and so on. Asked by: Balleshwar
A. Pity, isn't it? But remember a couple of things - Armstrong cheated his sport. Woods did not. Nor did Pistorius. Nor has Vijender. In any case, with Vijender, you must wait for the truth to emerge. It hasn't yet.
Q. Greetings Shamya! A nation such as ours have few heroes to look up to! At a time like this, why isn't he coming clean if he hasn't done anything? He is not above the law, a test must be conducted! Why is the police dillydallying? Asked by: Sethna from Patna
A. No, he isn't above the law. I hope the police is not dillydallying, though they appear to have approached Vijender without the requisite papers or with a doctor in tow. I don't think Vijender needed to comply with their demands under the circumstances. I am not defending Vijender. He doesn't need me or anyone to do that. If he is guilty, sure he must suffer the consequences. But his guilt hasn't been proven yet. It's best to wait.
Q. Have you ever interacted with Ram Singh, the boxer? Was he ever someone that had great potential but fell by the wayside? Asked by: Sunny
A. No, unfortunately, I haven't. I have heard of him. But honestly, not much more.
Q. Is this the first time this is happening in Indian sports? Asked by: korea
A. Well, there have been a couple of instances in the past, Korea, but, again, I have to remind you that there is no evidence yet that Vijender used or uses heroin. Offhand, I recall Maninder Singh, the cricketer, facing charges...more recently, Rahul Sharma. Vijender, till he is pronounced guilty, remains innocent to my mind.
Q. Shamya da, Do you believe that Vijender has taken drugs? What is your gut feeling saying? Asked by: SACHIN VASVANI
A. I really don't know, Sachin. No idea whatsoever. Heroin is certainly not a drug that does any good to a sportsperson. It's not like marijuana that works as a relaxant and helps in concentration. Or a performance-enhancer. No idea, honestly.
Q. Hi Shamya, I am a big fan of your writing ... what do have to say about this whole controversy? Do you think this is as big a story as the press is making out to be? Asked by: GD
A. Well, I suppose it would be, GD, if he is indeed guilty. Till then ... But you know how we in the media work at times. We are often in a tearing hurry to pronounce one of our icons guilty without getting into the specifics of the case. As such, a sportsperson or an actor using or peddling drugs would be a big story. That's the norm around the world. Whether we like it or not.
Q. Shammo...are you working on another book...if so when can we expect to see it? Asked by: Anil Senghera
A. Yes, but it's not a book on boxing. Should be out sometime next year. Thanks for the interest.
Q. Will they strip Vijender's title if found guilty? Asked by: The Fraudster
A. The Olympic bronze, right? You know, I'll have to check the rules for that. He hasn't been found guilty yet anyway, and even if he were guilty, I don't see it as something that helped him win the bronze. I wouldn't think his Olympic bronze or World Championship bronze would be taken away.
Q. Have you spoken to Vijender after the incident? Asked by: Mr Sethi
Q. Vijender is considered to be an icon, surely he owes it to his fans to come clean with his statement. Clearing the air. Asked by: Ina Puri
A. But the moment you ask a question like that, it seems that you have pronounced him guilty. He isn't guilty. Yet. Maybe he has said only as much as he has because he is not guilty. At the same time, how many people do you know or have heard of who have volunteered info of their guilt before being pushed into a corner where they have had to admit to their guilt?
Q. Why can't someone rent a car? Why did Vijender have to lend his car? Asked by: Boria from Korea
A. I have no idea.
Q. Are Indian boxers not able to digest the sudden bout of fame they have got after Olympic and are moving in wrong direction? Asked by: SPY
A. That's a fair suggestion (even though Vijender's guilt has not been proven) - but we are talking about only one person, aren't we? Sudden fame does do strange things to people, but as far as Indian boxers are concerned, most of them seem to be handling it fine. Including Vijender [and I won't change my mind till his guilt is proven].
Q. Sir, how are you feeling today? You are the praiser of Vijender. You are making him famous in your famous book. Today he is upto all these tricks. Asked by: Capt Dutta
A. I hope he isn't up to any tricks. I also hope that he was famous enough and his fame helped my book more than the other way...
Q. Why has Vijender refused to undergo the medical tests? Does he not trust the doctors in Haryana? A strand of hair and blood test! Unless he is scared of needles! Asked by: Sanchi from Ranchi
A. I think, from what I have read, he refused to give samples to the police because they didn't bring a doc with them. He has said he is happy to give his samples to the NADA officials. I'm sure the proper procedure can be followed.
Q. Don't you think world over most of the athletes/sportsmen take drugs? However, whoever gets caught gets the punishment and the others go scot-free. Asked by: Shyam Vadalker
A. Interesting question, Shyam, and though I have never had access to the details, I have long felt that the use of performance-enhancing drugs is more rampant that has emerged so far. There have been suggestions, that I have heard and read, that full-fledged government-sponsored programmes are in place across the world - both to find the best p-e drugs and their masking agents. Who knows if the truth will ever come out?
Q. For an enquiry with regard to lot of calls from his mobile to the drug peddler. Vijendra singh supposed to have replied to the police that his mobile would have used by the inmates of NIS to call Kahlon, the drug peddler. What he meant by the statement? Is all inmates of NIS are drugg users? Asked by: prathap
A. I hope and feel quite confident that not all 'inmates' of NIS are drug-users... But wait - we are talking about heroin here and not performance-enhancing drugs. Heroin can't do any good to a sportsperson and considering Indian athletes, especially boxers, have been doing well of late, I suspect they are mostly clean.
Q. See these sports men now getting lot of money. See the fate of Rahul sharma.Then they seek more 'happiness' and turn to drugs. Finally to buy drugs they become the dealers? Asked by: prathap
A. I would love to answer this, Prathap, but I can't - because I have no idea if athletes are turning to drugs to find happiness, as you put it. Or whether they are drug dealers.
Q. What do you make of Vijender refusing to cooperate with forensic investigation? Asked by: anithags
A. I believe his stance, so far, has been fair. He has asked for proper medical staff to be around when his samples are taken. He has okayed NADA officials for taking samples. We are talking about a prominent sportsperson here and a high-profile case. The law is the same for everyone, but surely a citizen's demand for proper procedure is not misplaced.
Q. If Vijender tests positive, will it be considered doping and will he be severed of his medals. Asked by: Narayan
A. I will have to check the rules, but (a) it can't be considered doping because heroin is not a performance-enhancing substance, though it is a banned substance, and (b) it has to be proven that he was under the influence at the time that he won the medals. But, like I said, I need to check the rules again.
Q. Dear Shamya, your book on Indian boxing is a wonerfully written rare book. Are we unnecessarily trying to pull down our boxing heroes with this incident? Asked by: Mukut
A. Not quite, Mukut. If Vijender is guilty, he must be punished. But yes, I did see a fair bit to feel that we (esp the media) were in a hurry to pronounce him guilty.
Q. These unproven allegations aside, as someone who has followed Indian boxing for a long time have you ever seen any drug/doping awareness camps being held for young boxers? Asked by: Bulbul
A. At NIS, yes. In a couple of other places, yes. But not in any concerted, planned, strategic way.
Q. More of a comment, but this incident brings to mind the state of Manipur. There is a constant allure of taking drugs or clutching on to boxing which is a passport to a better life for many. What is the way forward to help our young boxers? Asked by: Shuvo
A. Education. Simply... The problem in India is that athletes who do well do well on their own, despite the system, not because of it. Education is a part of the correct way. But it needs a much bigger, much more concerted effort.
Q. Sir, what is Vijender's best quality according to you? Asked by: Gobindo
A. He punches really well.
Q. Indian Sports Authorities are known to be very callous towards its sportsperson. Have you seen any change in their attitudes. Are they protective of the sportsperson? Asked by: Dhiraj
A. The boxing federation, a bit more than the others, has been working somewhat professionally. But then again, they are currently banned because of internal politicking.
Q. How it actually helps the boxing guys if they have Drugs. In spite of Doping test how this guys don't get caught? Asked by: Samuel
A. I hope the answer is because Vijender hasn't been using heroin. 1. Has he been using drugs? 2. Did he use anything while in competition? To the first question - no, heroin can't help.
Q. HI Shamya, Vijender has claimed that he is clean ever since the drug episode became a national news, but why has he refused to give his blood samples to investigators? This opens up a bigger chapter in this episode. If he gives his blood samples, would that not sort a major chunk of the story as well? Asked by: Ashim
A. Yes, it would. But, you know, if I were a sportsperson - an innocent sportsperson - I would be very worried about who is pricking a needle in my arm to take the samples. I would be very wary. I would want the right people with the right equipment following the right procedures to be doing it. But yes, I understand how more questions will be asked of Vijender if he continues to refuse to give the samples.
Q. If Vijender Singh is proven guilty, would you consider it to be the blackest day in Indian boxing? Asked by: Ashim
A. Tricky... I think the blackest day was when the federation was banned for non-compliance with the constitution of the international body. Vijender, if he was guilty, would be a drug-user or peddler who happens to be a boxer. If he did, indeed, use drugs, he still wouldn't have cheated his sport.
Q. IAAF has been regulating for a while and certain cases involving doping go back a decade, Anju Bobby George might get a gold because she finished second at a particular games where the athlete who won gold is under the scanner. Will the Indian Boxing Federation strip Vijender of all his titles if he is guilty? Assuming he's guilty. Asked by: Arjun Puri
A. Do you think he should be stripped of his medals? I don't think so. We are talking heroin, which is not a performance-enhancing drug. He, or any other Indian citizen, if guilty, would face punishment as per the law of the land and might even be banned for a few years.
Q. Will this drugs episode bring a downfall in his performance during professional bouts when representing India? Asked by: Ashim
A. If he has been using heroin, Ashim. If he has been using heroin, I don't think he could have been the boxer he is. Short-term heroin use effects: Euphoria, followed by hot flushes, a dry mouth and the feeling of having heavy arms and legs and drowsiness. Do you think that helps sportspersons?
Q. Hello Shamya da, with the banning of the federation, now with Vijender being accused - will the boom in boxing suffer an unexpected decline? Asked by: Kallol
A. That's the worry. That is, indeed, a big worry. I think it will. The onus must be on the federation to clean up its act and ensure Indian boxers can fight under the Indian banner and not as independent athletes. And yes, if Vijender is guilty, it will have an effect, considering how big an icon and role model he is.
Q. I support Vijender's decision for giving the samples to NADA. But the issue is why do players are taking drugs? Isn't it affecting their personal life? I'm a junior boxing player, while playing I have never thought of all that. They required a lot of practice to build stamina, not by the means of artificial methods. What do you think sir? Asked by: Rajat
A. I think, Rajat, that using heroin is not to be confused with using performance-enhancing drugs. If an athlete uses heroin, it can't be to become a better athlete. It doesn't help with stamina or anything else. Athletes do take substances that help them, Rajat - across the world, in all sports. And that has been proven over and over again.
Q. You say that Vijender should not be stripped of his Olympic bronze - if he's proven guilty, and yes, I understand that he hasn't been yet. But don't you think that, as an Olympian, he has a public responsibility to that (no doubt hard-won) honour - at the very least, to lead a crime-free life? Asked by: Aarohi S.
A. Okay, why do you want a public personality to be any different from you and me? Yes, a public personality has a public responsibility and I do agree that famous sportspersons have fallen off that pedestal often. But maybe it's partly because of what you and I expect from our heroes. That hero, for his part, is just another flesh and bones person with the same frailties that the rest of us have.
Q. Hi, my question is that if they are found guilty then will it affect the national boxing. I am a junior boxer, and I know how difficult it is to achieve that high. Do you really its now time for more boxers to come up in our country? Why don't they provide us a good platform to go forward? Asked by: Rajat
A. I hope one boxer (if guilty) deviating from the path will not be reason enough for young boxers to be disillusioned. Boxing is a great sport, a noble sport. If a young boxer wants to do well, there will be enough examples of the right path to choose.
Q. Why can't we have responsible journalism? Across the nation the headlines read - Vijender doesn't cooperate with Police, refuses to give samples. Whereas from your Q&A it appears that there was no doctor on sight, this hasn't been mentioned in any newspaper. We're happy to hang our heroes without defending them. Agree? Asked by: Arjun Puri
A. Agree, Arjun. We are often in a bit too much of a hurry to hang our heroes, pull them down, without waiting for the truth to emerge as, I'm sure, it will. As a huge sports fan, I would also say that we must remember that Vijender, unlike Lance Armstrong and so many others, would not have cheated his sport if he is indeed guilty of heroin abuse or heroin peddling.