I wonder if this guy is just on testosterone replacement therapy, which is an increasingly common occurrence. Low testosterone can cause poor health and a number of other issues (some psychological) in men.
Regardless, saying that because someone tests positive for a non performance enhancing drug they should have their card playing medals stripped makes no sense at all. :/
The World Bridge Federation is an IOC recognised sports federation, which requires them to follow World Anti-Doping Agency rules. The decision to seek IOC recognition was partly motivated by the (somewhat vain) hope of becoming an Olympic sport, but it's also partly financial because IOC recognition attracts a significant level of funding.
The WADA list of prohibited substances and methods is somewhat eccentric and clearly influenced by political concerns rather than pure science. Psychoactive cannabinoids are prohibited despite no clear evidence of performance enhancement, caffeine isn't prohibited despite clear evidence of performance enhancement and beta-blockers are only prohibited in specific sports.
The competitor in question would be permitted to use the substances in question if prescribed by a doctor for the treatment of a recognised medical condition, but he would be required to apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption within five days of an adverse analytical finding (a failed drugs test); it is understandable that the competitor may have been entirely oblivious to his obligations under the WADA code.
More likely he was trying to have kids.
The female drug is the interesting one. Typically testosterone is detected by measuring the ratios of different hormones, a lot of testosterone isn't even unusual in many people but it's balanced out by epi-testosterone. When you add testosterone via unnatural means the ratio skews. (Read about "the cream" that Barry Bonds used with "The Clear", it was used for masking) Hard to say what goes on in some of these folks' heads, they generally know the rules and they know the penalties and they know they'll be tested. I'd assume he took both to mask something. If you're really trying to have kids or on T-replacement, you have a doctor treating use, measuring things and that doctor can provide a TUE letter.
You won't believe what happened to this bridge player!
Neither appear to be illegal (although require prescription in most countries) and neither are performance enhancing.
What is the purpose of these rules in this case?
Here are 2 of the total 10 paragraphs of the article:
Kari-Anne Opsal, president of the Norwegian Bridge Federation, said 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 his ban ends.”
It's not a nootropic as such, but it could legitimately be called out as a performance aid in any high-pressure competition whether athletic or mental.
Probably more well known by its trade name Clomid in the body building underground, it's often used towards the tail end of steroid cycles by men to prevent the onset of gynecomastia a.k.a. bitch tits.
So I don't think its reasonable to go looking to performance enhancement as a reason.
To me it does appear that they're following rules meant for actual athletes. How much choice they had I don't know.
That isn't some Bridge player.
Why do purely mental games like bridge and chess have separate men's and women's tournaments?
To me it seems obvious that performance enhancing varies from sport to sport. Why did this not occur to the IOC/WADA ???
This is just more evidence that Bridge doesn't belong in the Olympics, IMO.
Then there are in between sports (that rely on skill as much as or more than physical strength) do you want a blanket ban on a drug some people may legitimately use just to prevent some one gaining an advantage? I would say possibly, but it should be evidence based, it shouldn't be done lightly.
Further the drug testing regime isn't some casual, hand in a urine sample with your entry form. Its making yourself available at set times, just in case some one tests you, and then it's peeing in a cup in front of them.
Source: built the UK drug database and peeing in a cup scheduling system around 2004.
Is it because of the IOC links?
Back in 2004, I remember drugs were broken down into categories and almost all categories were either blanket banned, allowed out of competition but not in competition, or allowed. Very few categories (possibly only beta-blockers?) had a more complex classification. While that was 15 years ago, I think the system is still similar.
Naively, I would hope that the Bridge governing body would get the stakeholders together with medical experts to come together to decide on a sensible list. That doesn't seem to be the case, I'm guessing it's (lack of) money?
In addition to the points that this is a legal drug, was probably prescribed for a legitimate use, and isn't performance enhancing for bridge, there's the issue where actual drugs that are performance enhancing for bridge, like caffeine, are not banned.