Geir Helgemo is a Norwegian-born titan on the earth of bridge, making him an unlikely candidate to be disciplined for failing a compulsory drug check.
However final month, the World Bridge Federation — sure, bridge as within the card sport — suspended Mr. Helgemo after a random check discovered the presence of artificial testosterone and Clomifene, a drugs usually used to deal with infertility in girls that may additionally enhance testosterone ranges in males.
Mr. Helgemo, an expert participant who represents Monaco at tournaments, is not going to be allowed to take part in a bridge competitors till November, the federation mentioned.
In contrast to a typical doping scandal, the substances present in Mr. Helgemo’s urine weren’t meant to reinforce his efficiency, David Harris, the federation’s common counsel, mentioned on Saturday.
“He didn’t have a really good understanding as to how the medication obtained into his system,” Mr. Harris mentioned.
Mr. Harris mentioned that Mr. Helgemo requested for the lab to recheck his outcomes after they got here again from a check taken at a championship competitors in Orlando, Fla., in September. They got here again unchanged.
Ultimately, he settled on the most definitely rationalization: Mr. Harris mentioned Mr. Helgemo instructed the federation that he had been attempting to regulate his weight and had been taking dietary supplements — with unknown elements — given to him by a good friend who was a physique builder.
Mr. Helgemo, who’s serving a jail sentence in Norway for tax fraud unrelated to his suspension, couldn’t be reached on Saturday.
Though doping scandals are nearly all the time related to bodily arduous sports activities, corresponding to biking and monitor, the identical guidelines set by the World Anti-Doping Company apply to extra sedentary video games which are acknowledged by the Worldwide Olympic Committee, corresponding to bridge and chess.
Gamers in competitions acknowledged by the committee are topic to the World Anti-Doping Code, which spells out the principles for drug testing and investigations. There may be additionally a “Prohibited Listing,” an expansive catalog of banned substances that features anabolic steroids, hormone modulators and diuretics.
The federation was acknowledged by the Worldwide Olympic Committee within the 1990s, making it topic to the antidoping guidelines. The popularity introduced “the good sport of bridge on the similar degree with these sports activities already admitted within the Olympic Video games,” the federation mentioned on is web site.
“Folks topic to the code must watch out about what substances they put into their physique,” Mr. Harris mentioned. “If somebody is giving him dietary supplements, he should be checking what’s in that.”
This normal is controversial within the bridge neighborhood, nonetheless, the place some gamers marvel why they must be examined for medication that will not even assist them win, mentioned Alvin Levy, the primary vice chairman of the federation. On an web discussion board for bridge gamers, tons of of feedback had been posted, with some saying that drug testing for bridge gamers made no sense.
Bridge competitions are lengthy occasions that require focus and stamina, Mr. Levy mentioned. Some competitions can final weeks, and a single occasion can final a number of days.
“Most of the high gamers deal with it like they’re an athlete,” he mentioned. “They’re very cautious what they eat between video games. They need to ensure they’re alert. They’ll avoid alcohol.”
Mr. Levy mentioned that, usually talking, utilizing medication to reinforce efficiency is just not a pervasive drawback in bridge and that he couldn’t recall a earlier suspension associated to a failed drug check.
Previously, Mr. Harris mentioned, a bridge participant examined constructive for a banned substance however it was later decided that the participant was prescribed the treatment by a physician for his well being. Based mostly on the antidoping code, athletes can get exemptions for “therapeutic use” of a drug. That exemption may be granted for athletes to deal with neuropathic ache and A.D.H.D. or transgender athletes who want to take hormones.
Folks usually assume that the antidoping guidelines are solely meant to stop athletes from taking medication to make them stronger, quicker or extra centered, however accepting the code is about attempting to maintain the game “clear” and free of medicine, Mr. Harris mentioned.
“We wouldn’t need the highest bridge gamers pondering, ‘Oh, it’s O.Okay. to have a little bit of cocaine,’” he mentioned. “It’s not nearly enhancing performing; it’s a wider moral consideration.”