World’s No 1 bridge player suspended after failing a drugs test

Bridge is not known for doping violations and Kari-Anne Opsal, president of the Norwegian Bridge Federation, insists the drugs Geir Helgemo took were ‘not performance enhancing’

Bridge is not known for doping violations and Kari-Anne Opsal, president of the Norwegian Bridge Federation, insists the drugs Geir Helgemo took were ‘not performance enhancing’. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

The world No 1 bridge player has been suspended after failing a drugs test.

Geir Helgemo, who is Norwegian but represents Monaco in bridge events, tested positive for synthetic testosterone and the female fertility drug clomifene at a World Bridge Series event in Orlando in September.

After accepting he had breached anti-doping rules, Helgemo was suspended by the World Bridge Federation (WBF) until 20 November. He also had all titles, medals and points from the 2018 World Bridge Series revoked.

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.”

The World Bridge Federation (WBF) is recognised by the International Olympic Committee and as such abides by World Anti-Doping Agency rules.


5 fascinating facts about world’s highest Chenab rail bridge!

World’s highest Chenab rail bridge is expected to be complete by December this year. The construction of the 359 m high bridge began in 2004. This bridge will be 35 m higher than the Eiffel Tower.

Chenab Bridge

Representative Image  |  Photo Credit: Twitter

New Delhi: Indian Railways is constructing the world’s tallest railway bridge over Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir. This bridge which will be Railways’ finest engineering marvel and is being built at a height of 359 metres above the river. It may be noted that this bridge will be 30-35 m higher than the Eiffel Tower.

This bridge will form the crucial link between Katra and Banihal which is a key part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla section of the Kashmir Railway project. The work on the installation of the main arch between two sides of the bridge has already begun, said an engineering member of the Railway Board recently. The construction of the bridge began in 2004. However, the work was stopped in 2008-09 on the account of rail passengers’ safety due to frequent high-velocity winds in the area.

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Here are 5 fascinating facts about the bridge that you should know.

1. This arch bridge will be 1.315-km-long and is being constructed at a height of 359 metres above Chenab river waters. The bridge will have railway stations at both its terminal ends.

2. Railways is planning to install sensors on the bridge to check the wind velocity. In case, the wind speed exceeds 90 Kmph, the signal on the railway track will turn red and any train movement will be stopped. As per officials, the bridge can withstand winds up to 260 Kmph and its lifespan will be 120 years.

3. Since the bridge is being built in a terrorism-prone region, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is working the Railways to ensure that this Rs 12,000-crore bridge is able to withstand any major blast. Special 63 mm-thick blast proof steel is being used in the construction of this bridge.

4. The concrete pillars of this bridge are also designed in a way that it can withstand blasts/explosions. The bridge is designed by consultants from Finland and Germany.

5. Aside from blasts, the arch bridge is also being designed in a way that it can withstand an earthquake of magnitude 8 on the Richter Scale. It may be noted that even though the bridge falls under zone 4, it is being built to handle earthquake with an intensity of zone 5 which is the highest intensity zone in the country.

Worth mentioning here is that Railways is also constructing three big tunnels- T2 (5.9 KM), T3 (9.369 km) and T14 (13 km), on the other side of the river. According to officials, over 1,300 workers and 300 engineers have been working round-the-clock to complete the bridge by May this year.

A ropeway is being installed as well on the bridge as well for inspection and maintenance purpose. The Railway had to construct 22 km of roads in order to reach the bridge site. According to reports, footpaths and cycle trails will also be constructed adjacent to the railway bridge.

Take a look at the pictures here:

chenab bridge

(Picture Credit: Ministry of Railways Twitter)

chenab bridge

(Picture Credit: Twitter)

chenab bridge

(Picture Credit: Twitter)

chenab bridge

(Picture Credit: Twitter)

chenab bridge

(Picture Credit: Ministry of Railways Twitter)

chenab bridge

(Picture Credit: Ministry of Railways Twitter)

chenab bridge

(Picture Credit: Ministry of Railways Twitter)

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Atlantic Bridge launches new fund for Irish firms

Brian Long, Atlantic Bridge: “The Atlantic Bridge model was to take companies in Ireland and Europe, incubate them here and then get them into the big market in the US.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne Brian Long, Atlantic Bridge: “The Atlantic Bridge model was to take companies in Ireland and Europe, incubate them here and then get them into the big market in the US.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

On Kildare Street in Dublin, Brian Boru meets Brian Long, so to speak.

Directly opposite the National Museum of Ireland, where an exhibition tells the story of the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, is the head office of Atlantic Bridge, a specialist technology investor that aims to help Irish tech companies conquer international markets.

Founded by Long, a successful technology entrepreneur who was born and raised in Dublin but lives now in Palo Alto, California, Atlantic Bridge has just launched its third fund, with €140 million raised from various investors.

That’s twice the size of fund number two, which was launched four years ago. Long expects the same figure again to be raised in follow-on funding for the 20 Irish and European companies who will benefit from its support.

Atlantic Bridge III’s backers include AIB, Enterprise Ireland and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund with Long putting some of his own money into the fund, too.

Seven investments are already close to being in the bag with the focus on growing companies in high-growth enterprise technology sectors such as cloud, big data, augmented and virtual reality software, robotics and the Internet of Things.

Essentially, Long sees the fund as being a “bridge” between Europe (mostly Ireland) and Silicon Valley, a global hub for hi-tech companies and start-ups.

“The Atlantic Bridge model was to take companies in Ireland and Europe, incubate them here and then get them into the big market in the US,” Long explains from its head office at 31 Kildare Street.

“The bridge idea was to build something here and scale it in the US. That was the strategy and it’s worked well. Fund two is doing 50 per cent IRRs [internal rate of return] at the moment, which means it’s not a bad place to put your money.”

Long said investments in the new fund are typically between €15 million and 420 million per party.

He has also attracted new backers to this fund, including British Business Bank Investments Ltd, the commercial arm of the British Business Bank, a UK government-owned entity.

Atlantic Bridge is one of the largest technology funds in Europe, with offices in Dublin, London, Silicon Valley, Beijing and Hong Kong.

To date, it has led investment of more than €100 million in Irish companies and this latest fund brings its assets under management to€400 million.

It also co-manages a $100 million China Ireland Technology Fund with its Chinese partner West Summit Capital. Examples of scaled Atlantic Bridge portfolio companies include Movidius, FieldAware, PolarLake, Metaio, Swrve and Glonav.


It currently has more than 20 companies in its funds’ portfolio and has achieved 12 realisations with proceeds totalling €1.7 billion.

Fund number two initially totalled €75 million. “We’ve had four exits to date in that fund,” Long said. “We’ve returned 70 per cent of the cash to the investors and we’ve got some great companies in there.”

Movidius is one of those businesses. Based in Dublin, it describes itself as a world leader in providing artificial vision intelligence for connected devices such as smartphones, drones and new Internet of Things product categories.

Movidius raised $40 million in new funding a year ago, in a round led by Summit Bridge Capital, a collaboration between Atlantic Bridge and its Chinese partner WestSummit Capital.

Last September it opened an office in Shanghai while in January, the company announced a partnership with Google.

Long is a board member and believes this business could yet provide the biggest financial return to Atlantic Bridge and its investors.

“The company is going very nicely. It was originally developing technology for 3D TV and almost went out of business,” he recalls. “We led the first investment into it two years ago, restructured it, built an organisation in the United States and it’s phenomenal now.”

Atlantic Bridge has a good track record with its investments, with Long estimating that “90 per cent work out”.

It has 12 investments left in fund two, with four exits completed generating returns of between 300 and 500 per cent and IRRs of 100 per cent-plus.

Long said Mataio, which was sold in May 2015, achieved a five-times return for Atlantic Bridge.

Maginatics, a storage company in the US, was sold to EMC in late 2014 for a four-times return.

Further back, GloNav, which develops GPS technology, was sold to NXP for a three-times return.

In addition to raising its own money, Atlantic Bridge also brings in co-investors and has partnered with heavy hitters such as Intel and EMC.

He cites Movidius, Swerv and Blue Data where the fund is “poised to have big exits . . . in a year or two”.

The return to date from fund number two? “It’s probably 2.3 times at the moment. That’s before we get exits. We believe it will be well north of that.”

Another company he likes is Gridstore, a California-based company providing next generation data storage for disks, as a good example of an Atlantic Bridge investment.

“It’s an Irish R&D company and expanded into the US market. We’ll be scaling up the R&D here and in the US over the next couple of quarters. It’s a company that’s growing very rapidly, well over 100 per cent growth year-on-year.

“That company was founded here but it’s now a very much Irish-US company. It raised $19 million, led by Atlantic Bridge.”

A thousand years ago, Brian Boru’s ambition was to be king of Ireland.Today, Long wants his companies to conquer global markets.

“We’re focused on growing global companies,” he said. “On scaling companies out of Ireland and either making them public companies or international companies looking to expand into China, the US or European markets.

“Ultimately, they get sold to US multinationals for a profit, or go public on the Nasdaq. We’re looking for people with big ambitions to go global.”