I know what you’re thinking. There’s a Tour de France of pigeon racing??? I was as surprised as you are to discover this little fact, but what’s going on might be the biggest scandal in the history of the sport.
MURDER ACCUSATIONS. WITHDRAWALS. FINGER POINTING.
And keep in mind this isn’t even an episode of Walk the Line!
Lest we think this is a couple of old men sitting on the roof of a decrepit apartment building in the Bronx, the event in question is MASSIVE. How big? According to the Guardian:
“The Barcelona 2020 race is the grand marque endurance event of the year for European pigeon racers, with nearly 15,000 pigeons registered to race 1,062km across the Pyrenees. The glory attached to the race is such that past winners have been sold at auction for as much as €200,000 on the back of their victory.”
Fifteen thousand pigeons? Winners selling for a cool quarter milly?
On the eve of this massive race, however, SHIT HAS HIT THE FAN. Birds started dying -- so many (eleven so far) that the entire French contingent (Club des Internationaux Français) has withdrawn their 2000 bird entries.
Accusations are FLYING.
The organizer of the event, Luc de Geest, has claimed this was all a tragic accident.
“These are three dramas in one,” he said. “For the animals. For the French pigeon fanciers and for us. This is the worst thing that has happened to us in more than half a century of Barcelona.”
The French are not buying it, especially after an autopsy was performed. On 11 dead birds. Really.
The Guardian reported that, “A hastily organised autopsy by a Flemish veterinarian on one of the pigeons found traces of a motoring fluid known as AdBlue in the bird’s guts, according to the Belgian organisers.”
Not to point fingers, but yeah, these birds got whacked.
And amidst all of the death, drama, and the Knives Out style “who done it” investigation, the show, apparently, must go on.
The Belgian organizers, who mind you had no birds poisoned, said the race would go ahead given that there are 13,000 other birds currently basketed and ready to race in Barcelona.
Sorry Rico, some sports are bigger than life.
For those interested in the results -- apparently it was a VERY GOOD YEAR to not be a French pigeon. This page here shows the results from this year’s Tour de France of Pigeon Racing.
Whole lot of British and Belgian winners. Just sayin’.