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World’s top-ranked bridge player suspended for doping

People play in an open round of Europe's biggest single venue bridge competition at the Metropole Hotel August 19, 2005 in Brighton, England. .
People play in an open round of Europe's biggest single venue bridge competition at the Metropole Hotel August 19, 2005 in Brighton, England. . Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

The world’s top-ranked bridge player has been suspended after testing positive for two banned substances. That’s right, the card-player was busted for doping during a card tournament.

The World Bridge Federation (WBF) announced this week Geir Helgemo tested positive for synthetic testosterone and the female fertility drug clomifene while battling it out at the World Bridge Series in Orlando, Fla., late last year.

“As a consequence of the laboratory analysis, an anti-doping charge was brought against the player,” the federation said in a statement. “He accepted that he had committed the violation and accepted a provisional suspension pending consideration by the Anti-Doping Panel.”

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The WBF is recognized by the International Olympic Committee so the federation is subject to the same rules laid out by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

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Helgemo is Norwegian but represents Monaco at various bridge tournaments. The Norwegian Bridge Federation issued a statement saying the substances the card player tested positive for were “not performance-enhancing” and suggested that many substances on the WADA list “do not have any performance-enhancing effect in bridge.”

“It can therefore seem a little strange that bridge players must follow the same rules as practitioners in more physical exercises,” reads the statement. “The bridge organizations should work to get a regulation that is adapted to our sport.”

On top of the suspension, the WBF revoked all titles, medals and awards Helgemo achieved during Rosenblum Cup 2018 and events within the World Bridge Series 2018 circuit.

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Norwegian Bridge Federation president Kari-Anne Opsal said in a statement Helgemo “is our biggest star.”

“Many in the bridging community know Geir and appreciate him,” the president said. “It is his responsibility not to take substances that are on the doping list, even though in this instance they are not performance-enhancing in bridge. I feel for Geir in this situation and hope he will come back stronger after his ban ends.”

Helgemo is suspended until Nov. 20.

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