Most-read articles of 2017: Incredible sale prices for pigeons, record averages, the impact of stock breeders, the KBDB and doping (Part 1)

It has become an annual tradition for PIPA to bring you an overview of the 10 most-read articles (in all languages) of 2017 just before New Year. Racing clubs, club and ranking pages are not included. Here is a look at the 10th through to the 6th most-read article of 2017.

10. Second General Meeting of October 2017 and election outcome draws a lot of attention

Is this a turning point for the KBDB and its future? It has been quite a topic of debate among pigeon fanciers at the end of the season. A new round of elections was due in October, in which fanciers were given the opportunity to elect their provincial representatives for the next six years through a voting letter. From these provincial representatives a new group of national representatives will be selected for each province, to be attending the national assemblies and meetings, and thus to be involved in policymaking. The results were announced in the general meeting of October in Halle, and many fanciers were looking forward to the results. Did the Belgian pigeon racing community vote for renewal, or would they rather stick with the current board led by Stefaan Van Bockstaele and Dirk Schreel? Many were following the elections with sceptisism. As we expected, there were some remarkable surprises. At national level the current chairman Van Bockstaele did not get re-elected, whereas Dirk School did remain in position (although he was facing rumours about fake loft lists and election fraud in West Flanders). Both East-Flanders and Flemish Brabant are getting an entirely new managing board.
Besides the elections we also saw the new racing calendar for 2018 being made public, and other topics included the policy of the WPROL, as well as the price per ring, and abolishing the use of a control gummi in the national longer middle distance. There was a lot to be said about this general meeting.

9. Bird flu has a firm grip on pigeon racing

Pigeon fanciers brace themselves when they hear about yet another bird flu or avian influenza outbreak in the media. Pigeons having to be locked inside, and a temporary ban on pigeon races are just a few of the measures that have been imposed in recent outbreaks. The highly contageous virus hit again in the spring of 2017, affecting different species of birds across Western Europe. The virus was also found in a few bird lofts in Belgium in February, which prompted the FAVV and the government to take a few measures that had a considerable impact on pigeon racing from February to early March. Pigeons had to be kept inside, and racing birds could not be trained or raced in certain areas. These were tough times. Fortunately some less stringent measures were imposed later on, and fanciers across the country wanted to stay up to date on the matter. As we speak, the international pigeon federation FCI is organising a crowdfunding campaign in an attempt to demonstrate that racing pigeons are not susceptible to bird flu. The FCI launched this crowdfunding campaign to safeguard the future of our sport, as this research will play a crucial role for the future of pigeon racing. The goal is clear: making sure fanciers across the globe do not have to go through this ordeal again.

8. De KBDB and the doping saga continues to be a topic of debate

The KBDB organised a press conference on doping in their headquarters in Halle in early January 2017. The goal was to clear things up about doping violations and the positive drug tests of 2016. Doping had been a popular topic of discussion about a year ago. Many fanciers did not really know the ins and outs, and the KBDB decided not to further inform the public, so as to avoid procedural errors. What made things worse was the numerous stories that were going around, and which were not very accurate. Additional research on the influence of poppy seeds and atrophin on a pigeon's performance showed that there were natural contaminants in play. The WAC then concluded that there had been no doping violations. As a result, the fanciers that had received a punishment a year ago (for the use of atrophin and caffeine) were cleared from suspension.

7. Bulgarian fancier Simon Monev reaches his goal

Simon Monev, a fancier from Bulgaria, was to represent his country at the 2017 Olympiad in Brussels. However, a bird flu outbreak ruined the party, since Bulgarian pigeons were not allowed at the Olympiad due to the recent outbreak in his home country. He saw his chance to excel in an international competition ruined. A few of his friends had convinced him two years ago to start racing pigeons, and he promptly told hem he wanted to create a pigeon breed that would be able to excel in every discipline. This was quite an ambitious plan but he did manage to reach his goal. This fancier has done some great things in just two years' time.

6. Gaby Vandenabeele breaking records again

We started the season with a series of prestigious records in our PIPA auctions, one of them coming from Gaby Vandenabeele. In his January auction of 2017 his 17 young birds were sold for an impressive 18,765 EURO per youngster. The previous record was 15,030 EUR/per youngster, which was also held by Gaby Vandenabeele, dating back from his first PIPA auction. The popularity of the Vandenabeele pigeon breed has been on an all time high. This is not quite a surprise, if you look at the number of fanciers that gained great results with the help of 'recordmeister' Gaby. Gaby now holds the 1st, and 2nd, as well as the 5th and 7th place in the ranking for pigeon auctions with the highest average sale prices for young birds. Will any other fancier ever be able to break this record?