Doping has often tarnished the image of cycling, athletics and horse racing, but drug cheats have taken another sport to an unprecedented low.
The world of pigeon racing was rocked on Friday by the news that several specially trained ‘homer’ birds had been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system.
Traces of the drug Mobistix, a medicine used by humans as a pain-killer, to combat fever and which also prevents inflammation, were found in five of the Belgian birds tested by a South African drugs laboratory, while cocaine was found in the blood of another bird.
The National Chairman of the Pigeon Fanciers Association Stefaan Van Bockstaele and the association’s Chairman of Sport Dirk Schreel were reported to be shocked when they received the test results. It was the second time the 20 samples in total had been tested after a laboratory in Belgian found no traces of drugs in any of them. The samples sent to South Africa were anonymous so the Pigeon Fanciers Association will not be able to take action against the owners of any of the pigeons
Belgian newspapers reported that during the next few months, the association will look at whether the South African lab will be given the task of analysing samples from Belgian pigeons in the future.