World Bridge Ace Suspended After Tests Find Banned Substances

(Bloomberg) -- The world’s No. 1 bridge player has run afoul of anti-doping rules that have tripped up track-and-field athletes and cyclists.

Geir Helgemo, 49, a Norwegian who plays for Monaco, was suspended by a panel of the World Bridge Federation after testing positive for synthetic testosterone and clomifene, a treatment for infertility in women. The substance can also raise male testosterone levels, stimulating muscle growth and physical ability.

World Bridge Ace Suspended After Tests Find Banned Substances

Increasing testosterone appears to have little benefit for players in sedentary sports like bridge, Allan Livgard, general secretary of the Norwegian Bridge Association, told Norwegian daily VG. The decision “feels a bit odd to us bridge players,” he told the newspaper, which has featured a bridge column by Helgemo.

“I feel for Geir in this situation,” Livgard said in a statement on the group’s website. “It is his responsibility to avoid substances that are listed in the anti-doping code, even if these drugs aren’t performance-enhancing in bridge.”

Helgemo didn’t respond to requests for comment, according to VG. The federation, in a statement Thursday on its website, said the player accepted that he violated the rules.

The bridge group’s policy is based on World Anti-Doping Agency rules. Its list of prohibited substances mainly includes drugs that are taken to enhance physical performance, in addition to substances such as methylphenidate, more commonly known as Ritalin, which has been found to improve the performance of chess players.

Helgemo tested positive after the World Bridge Series Championships in Orlando last year. His suspension ends in November.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.