A scandal strikes the ‘Tour de France of pigeon racing’ with the death of 11 birds | France

The Tour de France of international pigeon racing has been rocked by scandal and acrimony after 11 French birds were found dead on the eve of the competition in suspected poisoning.

Seven other French pigeons are said to be seriously ill, prompting the Club des Internationaux Français (CIF) to urgently withdraw their 2,000 pigeons from the Blue Ribbon event due to concerns about safety and “fairness in this matter. competition for all “.

The president of the French pigeon fanciers club, Philippe Odent, called members of the community of runners who had rejoiced at the incident as “vultures” and “parasites”.

“Their words are indifferent to me and it would do them too much honor to comment on them but I think fortunately many have identified the kind of sad characters they are,” Odent wrote in a letter to members of his organization after the death.

The Barcelona 2020 race is the big name endurance event of the year for European pigeon fanciers, with almost 15,000 pigeons registered to cover 1,062 km through the Pyrenees. The glory attached to the race is such that the former winners were auctioned off for no less than € 200,000 on the back of their victory.

The hapless pigeons were held overnight in the town of Chéreng in northern France on Sunday in order to have rubber rings, called countermarks, on which race times are recorded, strapped to their ankles. Two were found dead on Monday morning and a few hours later other pigeons had succumbed to a mysterious illness, much to the horror of the volunteers.

A hastily organized autopsy by a Flemish veterinarian on one of the pigeons found traces of a motor fluid known as AdBlue in the bird’s bowels, according to Belgian organizers. It is feared that a watering can was contaminated with the liquid and then used by one of the volunteers looking after the birds.

“Nobody wanted this, everyone is devastated. This is why we are not going to start researching who exactly used this deadly watering can, ”said Luc de Geest of the Cureghem Center group, which has organized the race for 50 years.

In a letter to the French pigeon fanciers delegation, Odent said he believed the incident was a “fatal mistake”, adding that “analyzing in a hurry would do no good.”

With the rest of the 13,000 pigeons already “packed” for the Barcelona competition, Belgian organizers said the race would continue on Saturday after a lot of work to get there in a troubled year.

“A dramatic event in a dramatic year,” said De Geest. “Normally we let the French pigeons meet in Zomergem [in Belgium], from where they then leave by truck with Belgian, German and British pigeons to Barcelona. This means a large concentration of people in Zomergem. We wanted to avoid this in this corona summer. This is why we are letting the French pigeons meet this year in the north of France from Chéreng.

De Geest said: “These are three dramas in one. For animals. For French pigeon fanciers and for us. It is the worst thing that has happened to us in over half a century in Barcelona.

“And in a year when [the coronavirus] was already so restrictive for the pigeon sport. Barcelona were meant to be a party, but that makes the disastrous year even worse.

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