Pigeons carrying cocaine in system?

We’re not sure exactly where to start with this one. It would make sense to start by saying that people in Belgium apparently race pigeons, and it is a highly lucrative sport.

But the sport was recently tainted when a number of birds used in the racing tested positive for various drugs. The doping was revealed when the Belgian pigeon-racing federation sent samples from 20 birds to the National Horseracing Authority of Southern Africa, and six of the birds were found to have traces of cocaine and painkillers in their systems, according to BBC News.

Pigeon racing and breeding are big overseas — in May a racing pigeon named Bolt — after Olympic gold-winning Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt — was sold to a Chinese businessman for 310,000 euros ($400,000). The lucrative nature of the sport has brought myriad issues, including thefts from breeders and racketeering.

In September, controversy broke out when Bolt, along with hundreds of other Belgian pigeons, was detained by Chinese authorities in a dispute over import duties.

The specially bred and trained pigeons are released from a specific location, and the “race” happens as they make their way back to their home loft.