Too irritated for words. Drugs in bridge. Groan.

June 5, 2010 at 7:50 am 21 comments

Well, you know. Not that irritated, but.

The fiasco goes on where bridge desperately tries to join the corrupt marketing exercise known as the Olympic Movement and it will do anything it has to succeed.

(1) Is there anybody out there who actually thinks it would be a good idea to be accepted into this movement? If so, please do explain.

(2) Let’s talk about the drug side of things. In case you didn’t know, in order to be defined as a sport you have to have a drug policy. Bridge, of course, doesn’t have one, and if it did, it would be completely dishonest. The only drug I know that is clearly performance-enhancing for bridge is nicotine. Is the WBF or the ABF going to ban smoking, either because it is cheating to smoke and play or because it is bad for one’s health and, hey, this is all about the health and happiness of the athlete. I hope that doesn’t make you laugh until you can’t finish your fag. Bridge, we know is mostly about dinner and drinks, we even organise our schedule at nationals around it these days. Athletes? Pardon me.

You probably haven’t done this before, but do go here to take a look at this absurd document.

Note in particular:

Natural or synthetic Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and THC-like cannabinoids
(e.g. hashish, marijuana, HU-210) are prohibited.

That would be ummmmmmm. Because they are performance enhancing? Not unless one of the sports is standing in front of the biscuit section of the supermarket at 2am deciding what to buy. First one to get to the checkout wins.

Compare alcohol:

Alcohol (ethanol) is prohibited In-Competition only, in the following sports.
Detection will be conducted by analysis of breath and/or blood. The doping
violation threshold (haematological values) is 0.10 g/L.
Aeronautic (FAI)
Archery (FITA)
Automobile (FIA)
Karate (WKF)
Modern Pentathlon (UIPM) for disciplines involving shooting
Motorcycling (FIM)
Ninepin and Tenpin Bowling (FIQ)
Powerboating (UIM)

They do jest, please tell me. Alcohol is only banned in the sports where they think you might actual kill somebody if you performed drunk, while marijuana is banned because WHAT? Ah, because it is bad for you and the Olympic movement is so interested in the health of the contestant. That’s right, I was forgetting. Whereas alcohol, well, we wouldn’t consider that the biggest legal health and safety issue in the countries in which it is legal, would we?

It gets even funnier, look at this:

Unless otherwise specified, beta-blockers are prohibited In-Competition only, in
the following sports.
Aeronautic (FAI)
Archery (FITA) (also prohibited Out-of-Competition)
Automobile (FIA)
Billiards and Snooker (WCBS)
Bobsleigh (FIBT)
Boules (CMSB)
Bridge (FMB)
Curling (WCF)
Golf (IGF)
Gymnastics (FIG)
Motorcycling (FIM)
Modern Pentathlon (UIPM) for disciplines involving shooting
Ninepin and Tenpin Bowling (FIQ)
Powerboating (UIM)
Sailing (ISAF) for match race helms only
Shooting (ISSF, IPC) (also prohibited Out-of-Competition)
Skiing/Snowboarding (FIS) in ski jumping, freestyle aerials/halfpipe
and snowboard halfpipe/big air
Wrestling (FILA)

Yes, dear readers, there’s bridge!!!! What a joke. Because chess, unlike bridge, has a professional attitude to what it does, drugs have been tested unofficially in that sport for a long time and players came to the conclusion not that beta-blockers couldn’t be performance-enhancing, but that you had to get it so precisely right, otherwise affecting your performance either way adversely, that it simply wasn’t worth it. Is this why we see on this list that bridge players may not use beta-blockers but chess players can???!!

So, as things stand, just to summarise, the WBF has no meaningful drug policy. It doesn’t permit the use of a clearly performance disenhancing drug group, why? It and the IOC don’t mention nicotine at all, why? Well, we know it is because there would be general havoc and rebellion, but all the same, why? It is plain dishonest to permit cigarette smoking as an Olympic exercise.

To see the development of the WBF’s plans over the years, go here.

I can see one reason why bridge might want to be part of the IOC, but chess shouldn’t. Chess has a meaningful Olympiad of its own, when you play in a chess olympiad you find out the population at large is actually interested in chess. It takes over a town or city, everybody knows it is on, people go to watch, they stand outside your hotel to get autographs. Bridge has nothing to compare. Nobody could give a flying fuck if a bridge olympiad is on in a town, it generates no interest whatsoever. I gather from recent discussion here that nobody thinks this matters, that bridge is obscure and excites the average mug in the street about as much as noughts and crosses – actually, probably less to be fair – but if this is the case, why on earth are we bothering trying to become an Olympic sport???!!!

Thoughts please.


Entry filed under: thoughts on bridge.

Scottish Cup denoument Questions of style.

21 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Paul  |  July 7, 2010 at 2:21 am

    Sorry, a little late here.

    One reason that bridge as an Olympic sport is important to some is that it gives access to a greater number of government funding programs. No one really wants to be part of the Olympic movement, but they do want more cash.

    • 2. cathychua  |  July 7, 2010 at 11:52 pm

      Hi Paul. I dare say that is part of the cunning plan. Unfortunately it is a ludicrous way to try to get more money, competing with a large number of genuine sports that probably have good reasons for funding, which it is hard to see bridge having at the moment. Bridge has an obvious link to aging which is not only a likely source of funding, but is also a socially responsible way to develop better ties with society at large. Unfortunately instead we have a fixation with getting young people to play and in trying to compete with professional genuine sports, whilst keeping the game an amateur pasttime which is organised even at high levels around dinner and drinks.

      • 3. stefan f.  |  July 22, 2010 at 5:39 pm

        “… cunning plan … way to try …. “?

        Jut an example: The Italian bridge federation gets since several years money from the national olympic organisation. For instance in 2009 they got 363.645 AUD

        ciao stefan

        • 4. cathychua  |  July 30, 2010 at 2:12 pm

          I don’t think that the best bridge playing country in the world attracting a relatively small subsidy – I’m guessing, compared with major sports – quite demonstrates any particular point, Stefan, though it is nice to hear that there is one NCBO getting money!

          • 5. stefan f.  |  August 9, 2010 at 4:04 pm

            ok one more: the dutch federation NBB gets about 1.465.838 AUD in 2010 from different organisations.
            Part of the money is even coming from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. They realized that we are an aging society and we need to push people to exercise body and mind as long as possilbe (Project Denken en doen).

            Hey in some intricated way even australia is availing from it since LOTTO was (is?) helping financially clubs to buy duplicating machines.

            While the examples above stress incoming money we should not forget another financial point, the way you get taxed if you get a non-profit organisation status.

            My point was only that it already helps to keep a semi-sportive image as a facet of our game.

            ciao stefan

  • 6. Andrew  |  June 8, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Not at all relevant, but a fine historical document…

    So far as I know, the anti-marijuana policy is a quid pro quo for USA-financing. You could probably make a case for calling that corrupt, but if some large government offered me a generous income for life in exchange for banning marijuana in the house, I’d probably take it.

    We can always run an alternative unsanctioned championship, if enough people care enough. Melbourne had many fine marijuana-based sporting (chess, football, cricket, soccer) competitions in the late 70’s and probably still does.

    I can’t see how being an Olympic sport hurts from a marketing point of view. I’m pretty sure the cast majority of bridge players won’t feel unduly impacted by a drugs policy. Medical exemptions are readily available – you may possibly have noticed that all the world’s swimmers are asthmatic, thus allowing them to take medical amphetamines.

    • 7. cathychua  |  June 8, 2010 at 3:39 pm

      It’s not that I have an issue with anti-marijuana. It’s that I have an issue with banning this for no good reason juxtaposed with the idea of NOT banning cigarettes. That’s hypocritical beyond belief and is completely against their own charter. What’s that if not corrupt? To have a charter talking about the interests and health of the athletes when it isn’t about this at all.

      I think chess would be hurt terribly by being an Olympic sport as it already has an important Olympiad of its own. It is true that bridge doesn’t and therefore there simply isn’t a status or reputation to damage.

      • 8. Andrew  |  June 8, 2010 at 7:45 pm

        I agree it would be stupid for chess to get involved. I don’t really see what the Olympics hopes to get out of bridge, quite frankly. They aren’t altruists.

        I think corruption has to do with money. The manifest inconsistencies you mention might just be stupidity or incompetence. But when someone pays you to be incompetent, the whiff of corruption scents the air.

  • 9. Peter Gill  |  June 7, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    I agree 100% with Cathy.

    It was such a shame that Australia withdrew a qualified player from one of the Australian bridge teams that went to Beijing in 2008, when he admitted that he had been unable to give up cannabis before the event within the time limit that would result in a positive reading.

    Similarly it was a bad thing back in 2002 when the American was denied her medal ref

    • 10. cathychua  |  June 7, 2010 at 7:39 pm

      Great link, Peter. Is it really true about the 2008 Australian team or are you joking??? Sorry, I’m just woken up.

      • 11. Peter Gill  |  June 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm

        That’s why our Beijing U21 team had only 5 players.
        If we won, he would have been drug tested and would have failed the test. We didn’t win … he didn’t go to Beijing.

        The withdrawn player is in this year’s NSW Youth Team.

        • 12. cathychua  |  June 15, 2010 at 2:46 am

          It does seem strange, does it not, that a player can be penalised for using a drug which is the opposite of performance-enhancing. I really think that we should have some official comment about this.

  • 13. cathychua  |  June 7, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    But Phil, look at what you wrote:

    there are plenty of people waiting to come out of the woodwork and play at a local club and plenty more who might see an ad for bridge lessons or have a mate who plays who will now take up the game rather than dismiss it as being obscure – all because of the massive exposure that would come with being played at the olympics – my guess is that within say 20 years the number of people playing bridge would double – thats huge

    i think its wrong that the obscure sports played at the olympics are ignored.

    But they ARE ignored, that’s the point. Bridge is going to be like all the other obscure sports for which gold medals, even, mean nothing. Not that being ignored is a reason not to be in the Olympics, but bridge would be FAR better off developing a high-profile Olympiad of its own such as Chess has had since the 1920s. Of course it can’t do that because it has no social standing. And because it has no social standing….bridge is in this ghastly loop of its own making. Big sigh.

    • 14. phil markey  |  June 8, 2010 at 10:34 am

      “i think its wrong TO SAY that the obscure sports played at the olympics are ignored.”

      fixed my post

      if bridge was played at the olympics i would be excited to make an olympic team but i would be as excited – maybe more excited – to play in a bermuda bowl – unfortunately i would probably no longer be the only person who knows that the bridge world championships are called the bermuda bowl when that comes up at quiz nights but i can live with that

  • 15. Larry  |  June 6, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Beta Blockers illegal for Bridge? Some people take them for high blood pressure. I currently take a calcium blocker as the beta blocker did not work for me.

  • 16. Richard09  |  June 6, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Since all you can do is laugh,,17527/

    • 17. cathychua  |  June 7, 2010 at 3:48 am

      That’s so funny, Richard, thanks! I hadn’t even heard of this site – it’s on my list now.

  • 18. Nigel Kearney  |  June 5, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Agree 100%

    Foolishness regulations about cannabis are to be expected of course but I didn’t know about the other stuff. I would like to watch drunken karate though – perhaps they can create a separate event for it.

  • 19. phil markey  |  June 5, 2010 at 11:17 am

    i think this is just a rant about the silly way society views drugs – its hardly surprising therefore that the olympics have a dumb drug policy and i dont think that fact warrants the suggestion of “dishonesty” or “corruption”

    i dont think there is any significant corruption in the olympics anymore and whilst i might agree its simply a msssive marketing exercise i think its undisputable that it would be huge for bridge if it was to become an olympic sport (ie played at “the” olympics)

    that said i am on a promise with several friends that when i get to play in an olympics i will enter the stadium stuyvey in hand

    • 20. cathychua  |  June 7, 2010 at 3:46 am

      Do you think that Australian bridge players who smoke dope will stop now or will they hope not to get caught in a drug test, which I assume the ABF will be diligently imposing and then accept the fact that they will be banned from playing for Australia?

      Why on earth do you think it would be ‘huge’ for bridge to be part of the Olympics??? Even gold medal winners for Australia in the more obscure sports are all but ignored, let alone something like bridge. If chess were to become an Olympic sport it would be a step down in every respect. I know because bridge has such a lousy public profile the same doesn’t apply. But still. As a society we know it’s a joke how many ‘sports’ are in the Olympics that shouldn’t be. We know that the IOC is trying to cut them out/down all the time. It is pretty hard to see how a sport which determines its schedule by dinner and drinks survives that aim!

      • 21. phil markey  |  June 7, 2010 at 12:00 pm

        your going to know well before it happens that you might be tested – all of the drugs that are tested for have a shelf life in your system – dope for example is one of the longer things to get out of your system at something like 10 weeks – as stupid as the rules might be they are the rules so i think if your a person who is going to test positive then you play by the rules or you dont play

        i am a card carrying member of the legalise all drugs movement so to be clear – if an australian representative at the bowl tested positive to a drug such as dope i would be dissapointed that such a rule existed but i wouldnt have a lot of sympathy for the person who tested positive

        “Why on earth do you think it would be ‘huge’ for bridge to be part of the Olympics??? Even gold medal winners for Australia in the more obscure sports are all but ignored”

        there are plenty of people waiting to come out of the woodwork and play at a local club and plenty more who might see an ad for bridge lessons or have a mate who plays who will now take up the game rather than dismiss it as being obscure – all because of the massive exposure that would come with being played at the olympics – my guess is that within say 20 years the number of people playing bridge would double – thats huge

        i think its wrong that the obscure sports played at the olympics are ignored – the only reason australia is a bit obsessed with swimming is because of the olympics – i would never have really known the names steve hooker or matthew mitcham or cared much about the sports they play without the olympics – i cant recite lots of names for those who have won medals at say archery, shooting, or sailing but i have certainly gained knowledge and respect for those sports by watching them being played at the olympics


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