An investigation has been launched after a set of pigeons failed a random drugs test.
The birds, which are used for racing, were found to have traces of cocaine in their faeces. However, their owners deny giving drugs to the homing pigeons, instead arguing that the testing samples were contaminated.
The Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA) carried out the random drugs tests to check birds weren’t being given any substances which could give them an unfair advantage over their competitors.
After the tests were carried out, three pigeon owners Kierren Clegg, 36, Ricky McGraw, 37 and 56-year-old Malcolm Preece were suspended from the Staffordshire Moorlands Pigeon Federation. However, they argue that the samples could have become contaminated as they claim the tests were carried out in a pub where there may already have been traces of cocaine.
The three men have appealed against their suspension and it has been lifted while an in-depth investigation into the matter is carried out.
Cocaine is thought to make birds fly faster
Research carried out in 2010 found that adding cocaine to bird grain made pigeons fly faster. Drug testing was brought in by the RPRA earlier this year to ensure fairness in pigeon racing and expose anyone attempting to use cocaine in a bid to win competitions.
Mr Clegg told The Sun newspaper that he denied the allegations, adding: “I didn’t even know cocaine helped birds. They tested it in a pub. You are talking about cross-contamination.
“They should have tested in the loft which we share.”
Les Blackrock, president of the RPRA, has denied there are any contamination issues with their drug testing procedures.
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.”
Of course, drug testing is more commonly associated with humans rather than pigeons. Random testing is often linked with competitive sport but it is also used by a large number of organisations and businesses to deter the misuse of illegal substances.
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