Pigeon Fancier Rigs Biggest Race of the Year
Last month pigeon fancier Eamon Kelly looked like he had bagged pigeon racing’s premier event for the second year running. The Tarbles National is considered to be the sport’s Grand National and boasts a first prize of £1500 cash together with a new Ford Fiesta. So what was Kelly’s winning formula.
Breeding or Racing Pigeon Supplements?
Was it an excellent breeding programme, a special diet or the best racing pigeon supplements that helped Kelly’s pigeon to victory? No! It was cheating!
The race is run from Tarbles in France. The bird which flies the fastest average speed in returning home is declared the winner. Eamon Kelly is one of the country’s leading fanciers and so a win wouldn’t have been an enormous shock. But when his bird registered an average speed of 40mph, other competitors began to smell a rat. The speed was credible for a pigeon but on that day none of the other birds could muster more than 39mph. Further investigations revealed that the winning bird had, in fact, never left Kelly’s Oxfordshire loft.
So how did Eamon Kelly manage to trick the organisers of the race?
Desperate to record another victory, Kelly registered 14 birds for the event but kept them at home. He sent entirely different birds to France. The deception was hard to spot as the lorry which transported the pigeons to Tarbles had 2200 birds on board.
Kelly then retrieved a bird from his loft and logged its alleged return by scanning its microchip. But fellow competitors were suspicious and this prompted an investigation. Mr Kelly now faces a life ban from the sport. One fancier said it was "the biggest scandal ever to hit pigeon racing".
Kelly, who owns 350 racing pigeons, has apologised to his fellow fanciers. He has described his actions as "stupid" and said "I was tempted and fell, I'll regret it forever." Some of his birds were bred at the Queen’s Royal Loft in Norfolk but his behaviour has not proved to be so regal.
The National Flying Club now has to decide whether or not he will receive a life ban from racing. He may also be stripped of his first Tarbles National win. He has confessed to everything but this may not prove to be enough the save him.
The Price of Cheating
With so many recent doping scandals in sport, cheating is nothing new. However, the stakes are not particularly high in pigeon racing and so it is a little surprising to hear that one of its leading lights has succumbed to the temptation to cheat.
Eamon Kelly will probably pay a huge price for his actions. However, as always, it is the sport which really suffers. Pigeon fanciers should stick to careful breeding, enhanced diets and to improve performance. Otherwise the credibility of the sport could be terminally damaged.