THE WORLD’S top bridge player has brought a scandal upon the sport after he was suspended for failing a drugs test.
Geir Helgemo, a Norwegian who represents Monaco, tested positive for synthetic testosterone and female fertility drug clomifene at a World Bride Series in September.
Helgemo was suspended by the World Bridge Federation (WBF) until November 20 after accepting he had breached anti-doping rules.
The 49-year-old has also had all titles, medals and points from the 2018 World Bridge Series event revoked.
The World Bridge Federation is recognised by the International Olympic Committee and as such, must follow World Anti-Doping Agency rules.
Kari-Anne Opsal, president of the Norwegian Bridge Federation, has defended the star by stating that the drugs were “not performance enhancing”.
In a statement on the federation’s website, she said: “Geir Helgemo…has previously played for the Norwegian national team and is our biggest star.
“Many within the bridge community know Geir and respect him.
“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 November 20, 2019, when his ban ends.”
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Helgemo, who provided the sample at the World Bridge Series in Orlando, is not the first player to be found using banned substances.
In 2015, The Daily Telegraph reported that 3.6% of bridge players tested positive for prohibited substances in their bodies.
Two years later, Helgemo and world number two, fellow Norwegian Tor Helness, 61, were both convicted of tax evasion.