Electronic Sports League to introduce drug testing in E-sports

The move comes a gamer boasted in an interview that he, his teammates and other professionals took prescription drugs

Sports Desk July 24, 2015
Gamers are proposed to be tested before the tournaments. PHOTO: ONLINE

The use of performance enhancing drugs has caused a lot of athletes to lose the respect associated with their names but the initiative taken by Electronic Sports League (ESL) will now see E-athletes, generally known as gamers, to be penalised as well if they are found using performance-enhancing drugs during the tournaments.

The move came after Kory Friesen, who plays under the name Semphis in the team Cloud9 which participated in ESL’s tournament for the shooter game Counter-Strike, boasted in an interview that he, his teammates and other professional gamers took prescription drugs to help them focus.

“We were all on Adderall,” Friesen said of his team, for which he no longer plays. “Tons of people do it.”

Later, he added from his phone during an interview on Thursday that he used the drug out of desperation and it didn’t work for him.

“It was just one of those things where it’s like, maybe it would help,” said Friesen.

In response to his comments, one of the most successful leagues in competitive video gaming – ESL – said that it would now test gamers for performance-enhancing drugs starting at a tournament in August with the help of two international agencies — the same ones that help oversee anti-doping policies for cycling, the Olympics and other sports.

According to Newzoo, a games research firm, the gaming industry alone created revenue of $250 million in the current year with estimated 113 million e-sports fans worldwide. And the prize money is expected to raise with the same pace to expectedly $71 million.

“We want to create a level playing field for all competitors and maintain the integrity of the sport,” said James Lampkin, vice president of professional gaming at ESL.

Meanwhile, Jack Etienne, Cloud9’s owner, said: “We don’t agree with Kory’s statements about Cloud9, and don’t condone the use of Adderall unless it was prescribed for medical reasons. The team is willing to submit themselves to drug tests prior to events if event organizers offer them.”

There are unique challenges with testing e-sports players. While traditional athletes perform at live events in the same location, some preliminary e-sports competitions are held online, with players scattered around the country and abroad.

Traditional sports and e-sports have a similar motivation for curbing the use of performance-enhancing drugs: legitimacy. Traditional sports leagues, like Major League Baseball, worry that performance-enhancing drugs can raise doubts about a level playing field. What value is there in sacred home run records, for example, if modern baseball players can get a big boost of strength from a drug?

Energy drink makers, in particular, have turned to marketing their products for gamers, suggesting that the caffeine- and sugar-filled beverages can improve play.

Bruce Dugan, a spokesman for Major League Gaming, said that the organization’s policies prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs. However, the league has never conducted drug tests of its players.

“Now that a lot of attention is being paid, it’s something we’ll look at for the 2016 season,” he said.

The article was published by The New York Times