Paul Bird, three-time winner of the Manx National Rally and head of one of the biggest and most successful teams in British motorcycle road racing, has been suspended from all sport for two years following an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.
The Penrith poultry businessman, who was responsible for John McGuinness’s original introduction to the TT in 1996, tested positive for benzoylecgonine (a metabolite of cocaine) and furosemide (a diuretic) following an in-competition test, after his win at the Nicky Grist Stages Rally in July.
He has subsequently been suspended from all sport until July 10, 2017, although it is not clear at this stage if his personal ban will have any affect on the Paul Bird Motorsport team that has seen Shane Byrne win British Superbike crowns and last year supported Ian Hutchinson’s heroic return to form at the TT.
The Nicky Grist Stages was a round of the BTRDA Championship he was contesting this year.
Bird has competed in the island since the 1980s, originally as a motocrosser in the TT support events, and later as a rally driver, primarily in the national events but he has contested the Manx International and more recently Rally Isle of Man.
He supported David Knight for a brief while a few years ago, but his highest profile individuals on two wheels were unquestionably the late Steve Hislop at BSB and World Superbike level and Joey Dunlop in his final Superbike TT win.
While Ian Hutchinson has joined Phillip and Hector Neill’s Tyco BMW team, the PBM team has switched from Kawasaki to Ducati and were as recent as last week testing with ‘Shakey’ Byrne and Glenn Irwin.
l The UK Anti-Doping Rule Violation team flew into the island last September during Rally Isle of Man to carry out testing on the final day of the event. Up to half-a-dozen drivers were randomly tested, after which they left the island again under complete secrecy.