By Ray Hamill
Some pigeons will apparently do just about anything to get ahead.
Especially those Belgian pigeons. They’re notorious cheats.
Seriously, they actually are.
In fact, this past week, believe it or not, six Belgian pigeons were caught with their beaks inside the proverbial steroid seed jar when they tested positive for banned performance enhancing drugs.
Now, this surprised me on three levels.
One, they do actually test pigeons for performance enhancing drugs. I did not know this.
Two, apparently they need to do this because pigeon racing is widely popular in many parts of the world, a sort of poor man’s horse racing in the skies.
And three, they somehow manage to get the pigeon to pee into a cup.
All the pigeon fanciers (yep, that’s what they’re called) were reportedly shocked and outraged at the news, although after a little research I wasn’t.
You see, the sport of pigeon racing has a history of cheating and doping scandals, especially those pesky Belgian pigeons, who are apparently like the East German Olympians of pigeon racing, or to give you a more contemporary comparison, they’re like the cyclists of the sporting world.
This, of course, is no joke to many pigeon fanciers (like Mike Tyson), who have long held the belief that pigeons are so much more than rats with wings and annoying crapping machines that love to reign down on your sparkling car the way Alex Ferguson likes to crap on his former players just to sell a few books.
Pigeon fanciers – and tell me that doesn’t sound at least a little perverted – have been organizing races for almost 200 years and include Queen Elizabeth among their ranks, and it has become big business for some, with the world’s most expensive pigeon – named “Bolt” after the famous Jamaican sprinter – recently bought by a Chinese fancier for $430,000.
(Yes, $430,000. Think about that the next time you see one of those “feathered rats” walking on the street in front of you.)
In fact, pigeons were the original mailmen of the world. They have a remarkable innate ability to find their way home from hundreds of miles away, and were used by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks to deliver messages over long distances, a sort of high tech email of their day.
But times have changed, and the once proud sport of pigeon racing is now tainted with cynicism, and I have to wonder just what sort of an example all this cheating is sending to the young impressionable pigeons of the world.
Bolt, for his part, has never admitted to taking steroids, and to be fair to him, he is the most tested pigeon in the world.
But I don’t believe him.
When it comes to pigeon racing, I just don’t know who to believe any more.