In the rapidly growing world of competitive gaming, the leagues and the people that organize them continue to face more issues that are dealt with by well-known and reputable leagues of other competitive activities. As the name the industry has adopted, eSports, would imply, there is a strong desire among its officiators to be as respected as taken as seriously as the professional sports leagues of the world. In this endeavor, eSports leagues are now faced with issues involving performance enhancing drugs.
In a recent video interview with YouTuber LAUNDERS CSTRIKE, competitive Counter Strike: Global Offensive player Cory “Semphis” Friesen openly admitted to using Adderall with the express intent of making him a better competitor. At around 7:45 in the video, Semphis tells Launders that “we [my team and I] were all on Adderall”.
Apparently, this interview and relatively shameless admission has attracted the attention of the organizers of Electronic Sports League (ESL), who refer to the World’s Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Back in April, Eurogamer published a fairly comprehensive exposé exploring eSports drug use, where they explored the WADA’s thoughts on Adderall as a performance-enhancing drug. The following statement was quoted therein from an article in The Seattle Times back in 2012:
“There’s no question Adderall’s a performance enhancing drug,” Dr. Gary Wadler, ex-chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List Committee told the Seattle Times in 2012, after two professional American football players reportedly tested positive for the drug.
Within the realms of other sports, with international or worldwide audiences, Adderall, specifically, is a rather new problem. In fact, the WADA only just acknowledged it as such within the last five years. In their article regarding use of the drug in mainstream sports by Larry Stone of The Seattle Times in 2012, the following statement was given, once again, by Gary Wadler:
It [Adderall] masks fatigue, masks pain, increases arousal — like being in The Zone…It increases alertness, aggressiveness, attention and concentration. It improves reaction time, especially when fatigued. Some think it enhances hand-eye coordination. Some believe it increases the mental aspects of performance.
With the above statements, the WADA’s stance on the drug is clear. One of the major problems with the issue, however, is how widespread its use likely is among competitive gamers, and it’s not the only “supplement” being utilized. Back in August 2014 on his personal blog, Bjoern Franzen published an editorial on performance enhancers in eSports and listed Piracetam, Methylphenidate, Modafinil, Selegiline, and Propranolol as other substances used to improve performance by competitive gamers.
While the issue is a hot one for now, the ESL has begun taking action. In an interview with Wired UK, ESL Head of Communications Anna Rozwandowicz outlined the organizations response to Semphis’s interview, stating that “the integrity of our sport is and always will be our biggest concern…When we first saw [Friesen’s comments], we focused immediately on kickstarting a policy-making process and adjusting the rules.” Rozwandowicz also said that “with the new general policy and specific updates to our tournament rules, we are hoping to have a waterproof strategy for identifying PEDs, testing for their presence and punishing players who were caught using any of the forbidden substances.”
Regarding Semphis and other competitors who’ve been in the spotlight for PEDs, Rozwandowicz had this to say:
We have no way of knowing whether he is telling the truth, or just being upset about being removed from the team and trying to annoy them…We’ve had cases of players admitting to cheating, but then denying everything once they found out they can get disqualified and banned for it. Upon investigating, it became clear that the games were played according to the requirements and were protected by anti-cheat software, so no cheating was possible.
Although there’s no way of reaching back in time to test Semphis the day of admitted abuse, new policies are being introduced to avoid this issue at future events. While nothing is set in stone yet, Rozwandowicz gave the following closing statement, which I’ll leave readers with:
While it is and will remain about protecting the integrity of our sport, things like that have to be done right. So there needs to be a policy, a process, a governing body, an appeal system and what not — just like in any other sport. We’re taking the steps to level with traditional sports, and it’s going to take a while before any esports organisation will administer regular drugs tests. We hope to speed this process up by proactively seeking advice from authorities and starting small. Full blown drug tests at esports events are far away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t try to tackle the issue.