Doping controversy threatens to envelop eSports

Ben Parfitt
Doping controversy threatens to envelop eSports

Is there a doping problem in eSports? That's the prospect many of the sector's leading companies are now facing up to following recent claims from one player about widespread drug use.

Counter Strike player and former Cloud9 member Kory ‘Semphis' Friesen caused a storm last week when he claimed that usage of the stimulant Adderall, typically used to treat ADHD, was common among eSports professionals and at tournaments.

"The integrity of our sport is and always will be our biggest concern," ESL boss Anna Rozwandowicz tols Wired. "When we first saw [Friesen's comments], we focused immediately on kickstarting a policy-making process and adjusting the rules.

We have worked on changes in our rules, reached out to authorities for support, and will be ready to announce our next steps in a couple of days. When that comes out, you can treat that as our full statement on the issue."

What exactly can be done if a player is found to be taking drugs, however, seems like a tricker question to answer.

"Our rules forbid participating in the tournament while on drugs [but] we don't have a list of repercussions that we can match to every incident in a straightforward manner," Rozwandowicz said. There has never been a case of us finding out a player took drugs – any kind of drugs – during our events, and as such we never had to punish anyone for it."

Major League Gaming, meanwhile, has told The Daily Dot that it simply defers to World Anti-Doping Agency policies which prohibit a player from taking "any illegal drugs, abuse any prescription or over the counter drugs, nor take any performance enhancing drugs".

UK eSports company Gfinity added that it has been aware of the issue for some time.

[It is] something we have had rules to cater for before in events like the COD championship we have helped run," it said. "We actively approach any players we suspect of using PED's and up until now we have had only one incident which turned out to be a player taking Pro Plus [a caffeine supplement]."

It also added that it hoped for the introduction of routine drug testing among players.

"This is not because e-sports is rife with PED's as some would have you believe,” it added. [It is] more to do with the world we live in which means high level competition requires drug testing to prove innocence, as unfortunately due to the numerous examples in traditional sports we now live in a world where drug testing is required to not only catch and expose cheats but more importantly to protect the image of the genuine superstars.”

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