The World Bridge Federation announced today that Geir Helgemo, the world’s top-ranked bridge player, has been suspended after testing positive for two banned substances: synthetic testosterone and clomifene (a female fertility drug).
Yes, doping. In bridge. The World Bridge Federation is a member of the IOC, and thus adheres to that organization’s anti-doping rules, whether or not those banned substances have any impact on a competitor’s ability to excel at bridge. While it’s unclear why Helgemo was using testosterone and what sort of advantage it would confer to a bridge player, a study found “winners of chess tournaments show higher T levels than do losers.”
Helgemo’s suspension is not the first time a bridge player has been caught using banned substances. Back in 2015, the Independent reported that the World Anti-Doping Agency found prohibited substances in the systems of bridge players and anglers—but primarily concentration aids, as bridge tournaments can be marathon events (some stretch as long as two to three weeks).
This is not Helgemo’s first time running afoul of various regulations, either. Back in 2017, the Norwegian player was sentenced to prison for tax evasion.
His suspension will be lifted in November 2019.