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WBF Leaves International Olympic Committee

In the wake of several recent unfortunate and unpopular high-profile decisions by international sporting organizations with jurisdiction over international bridge — most notably the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the Fantoni-Nunes case and the recent suspension of Geir Helgemo under rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) — the World Bridge Federation has decided to withdraw its membership from the International Olympic Committee, effective immediately. The decision was the result of a contentious special meeting of the WBF Executive Council held during the NABC tournament in Memphis last week.

Today, the WBF Executive Council released this statement announcing the decision:

It’s time for us to admit that bridge, while the greatest game in the world, is not a sport. The regulations governing sport, such as doping, simply do not apply to bridge, and we should not and cannot subject ourselves to the same rigors as Olympic athletes. Neither can we allow lay people with no bridge experience or expertise to adjudicate highly technical matters such as cheating allegations. Nor should we impose the same punishments on our players, whose careers can span 50 years, as the CAS does on athletes whose career might last a decade.

While we believe in and support the spirit of the Olympic movement and are committed to world bridge upholding those ideals, it is simply not in the best interest of our game to remain at the mercy of the unyielding and inflexible bureaucracies of WADA and CAS.

We know that this decision will have financial impact on many of our member NBOs, which count on state funding based on their status as sport organizations. In the long term, we believe the integrity of our game and maintaining control of our own destiny and regulations to be worth more than any monetary source. In the short term, the WBF plans to help support any NBOs that lose funding due to this decision, until they are able to find other revenue sources.

As part of this decision, the WBF announced it will be moving its headquarters from Lausanne, Switzerland, which had been chosen due to its proximity to IOC headquarters. WBF headquarters will be relocated to Milan, Italy, hometown of WBF President Gianarrigo Rona.

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