Bridge: world number one player ban for doping

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

Geir Helgemo, the world number one bridge player, has tested positive for the prohibited substances of clomifene – a female fertility drug – and synthetic testosterone and banned from competition for one year, which will end on 20 November 2019. He has also been stripped of all the titles, medals and points that he won in the 2018 World Bridge Series.

The World Bridge Federation, the Governing Body of the card game, is recognised by the International Olympic Committee and applies the World Anti-Doping Agency Rules.

However, bridge is not regarded as a sport in the strict legal sense. See the post of Prof Ian Blackshaw of 16 October 2015 on the GSLTR website reporting on the English High Court Decision of 15 October 2015 in the case of English Bridge Union Limited v the English Sports Council and others [2015] EWHC 2875 (Admin) Case No: CO/524/2015.

Helgemo, who is 49 years old and Norwegian, plays for Monaco.

The President of the Monaco Bridge Federation, Gilbert Vivaldi, commented on the matter as follows:

“Do you think testosterone levels can seriously influence intellectual performance?”

And added:

“We regret that such a talent as Geir Helgemo is sanctioned under an anti-doping regulation that is certainly adapted to physical sport but totally unsuitable for brain sport.”

Incidentally, Helgemo is no stranger to controversy having been convicted of tax evasion in 2017.

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ian.blackshaw@orange.fr’