Doping? In bridge? World's top player Geir Helgemo fails drug test
Li Xiang

Geir Helgemo from Norway is the world's top bridge player but he failed his drug test in September 2018 and was banned from taking part in bridge competition until November by the World Bridge Federation (WBF) Antidoping Panel, according to The Guardian.

This came as a real shocker as many believe doping only helps athletes in physical contest. However, Guo Yujun of the Chinese Contract Bridge Association (CCBA) told The Paper that certain drugs that improve endurance and concentration might help bridge players.

Helgemo tested positive for two substances that are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA): Synthetic testosterone and clomiphene. Testosterone can help increase physical strength, explosiveness, and speed, none of which was usually connected with bridge. Even stranger is the Clomiphene, which is used to help women get pregnant and should not have any particular effects on men.

Then could these elements work together as performance enhancing drugs in bridge? 

Can drugs help bridge players imrpove their performance in competition? /VCG Photo

Can drugs help bridge players imrpove their performance in competition? /VCG Photo

Kari-Anne Opsal, president of the Norwegian Bridge Federation did not think so. "It is his (Helgemo's) 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," said Opsal in a statement.

The Monaco Bridge Federation, the league that Geir plays for, did not like WBF's decision either. "Experience shows that anti-doping regulation cannot be applied without discernment to the brain sport of mind games. We regret that a talent such as Geir Helgemo is sanctioned under an anti-doping regulation that is certainly adapted to physical sport but totally unsuitable for brain sport. We hope that this event will prompt interested authorities to look into this problem," said Gilbert Vivaldi, president of the federation, to BBC.

So far there's no confirmation whether doping could help bridge players improve their performance in competition.

Besides the competition ban, Helgemo also saw his title and masterpoints from the World Bridge Series 2018 revoked while the medals and the awards were returned to the WBF.