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Racing Pigeons and Doping

If you heard that an Olympic athlete or a cyclist in the Tour de France had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, then you probably wouldn’t be surprised. There have been so many doping scandals in sport that cheats are no longer headline news unless they are major stars. The potential rewards for victory are so great that the temptation to cheat is clearly overwhelming. However, you might expect things to be a little different when it comes to pigeon racing!

Now even this sport might prove to be tainted. A pigeon racing syndicate is being investigated for feeding its birds cocaine!

Testing at the Pub

Kierren Clegg, Malcolm Preece and Ricky McGraw have been suspended from the Staffordshire Moorlands Pigeon Federation after their birds tested positive for cocaine following a race. Their birds had achieved a number of big wins but a random test following an event revealed the presence of cocaine. But Clegg, Preece and McGraw claim that the samples of the bird’s droppings which were used for testing were contaminated because they had been taken in a public house.

The trio were banned from racing following the positive tests but that ban has been lifted whilst they appeal the findings.

Pigeons and Cocaine

In a 2010 study it was shown that pigeons will fly faster when fed cocaine in their grain. However, Kierren Clegg has stated that he doesn’t believe that cocaine would improve the birds’ performance and completely denies the allegations. He feels that the tests should have taken place at the syndicate’s shared loft and not in a pub where there was clearly a danger of cross-contamination.

The Potential Punishment

The syndicate has been competing since 2008 and has won a number of significant honours. If they are found guilty of giving their pigeons a Class A drug, then they could be given a three-year ban from competing. Les Blacklock, president of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA) has denied that the samples taken were contaminated.

He said: "We tested 80 lofts for drugs this season. This was the only one that came back with a problem.

"We have the same process for everyone. Independent fanciers go to the lofts and collect pigeon faeces and put them in a sealed container. They are then sent off to the lab for testing in South Africa."

Pigeon Racing’s Reputation Rocked by Scandals

It will be interesting to see what happens with this case as it would be unfortunate to discover that pigeon fanciers are doping their birds, particularly with cocaine. The story comes shortly after Britain’s top fancier shamed the sport by cheating to win the "Grand National" for birds. Eamon Kelly recorded a time for a bird which had never actually left his loft. He eventually admitted cheating and has been banned for life.


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