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article imageDoping scandal in pigeon racing in Belgium?

By Mike White     Oct 26, 2013 in Sports
You might not be shocked by a doping scandal in cycling. You might even expect that some stars in baseball, the NFL or NBA take performance-enhancing drugs. Who would expect a group of pigeons involved in a race to be the victims of a doping scandal?
The Daily Mail reported the world of pigeon racing was rocked by a doping scandal when tests showed a number of pigeons in Belgium were found to have traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system.
One bird actually had cocaine in its system. Five birds tested had Mobistix - a painkiller often used to combat inflammation and fever.
Even though the birds had the drugs in their system, the Pigeon Fanciers' Association cannot take disciplinary action against the owners because someone submitted the samples anonymously.
A total of 20 samples had previously been checked in Belgium, without finding any traces of drugs.
Chairman of the Association, Stefaan Van Bockstaele, and chairman of sport Dirk Schreel, were both shocked at the test results. They are considering new rules on doping before the 2014 season.
In Belgium, specially bred birds are let go from a specific location. They then race back to their loft. The sport is a big business in the country.
In pigeon racing, the birds often race more than over 600 miles. About 60 percent of the birds in any particular race do not make it back. Instead, they are killed by predators, fall from exhaustion or are killed by power cables.
A Chinese businessman paid £260,000 earlier this year for a Belgian pigeon. The pigeon was named Bolt, after Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, and many think he wanted to use the bird to breed more racing pigeons.
The Independent reported the birds were tested at a laboratory in South Africa.
According to a number of Belgian newspapers, South African laboratories may be given more chances to test pigeons from Belgium.
From 2010 and 2012, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals conducted an investigation into the sport of pigeon racing in the United States. It found about 60 per cent of the pigeons died.
The BBC reported Belgium is considered the king of pigeon racing. The country has had scandals involving pigeon racing before.
The best pigeons can sell for $25,000 in the country.
Memorials are held annually in Brussels and Lille, northern France, to honor the role of military pigeons during the war.
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