ESL, the world’s largest league for gaming and e-sports, announced Thursday they will begin considering programs for comprehensive drug tests. Increasingly large cash prizes and a surge in popularity is prompting the changes as the once niche profession matures.
James Lampkin, vice president of the league, told ESPN.com, "We've known for some time that performance-enhancing drugs could be a challenge that we'd eventually need to face. With knowledge that there was likely active abuse of PEDs taking place, we immediately began serious discussions with top drug agencies for methods of prevention.” As the e-sports industry continues to grow, more is at stake within the league, leading players to seek an extra edge in the competition by turning to PED’s.
ESL, headquartered in Germany, has partnered with the country’s National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) to begin the tests. They have also involved the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to help enforce the penalties and rules once a policy is established.
Kory “Semphis” Friesen and his team played the game Counter-Strike with a chance to win $250,000 in prizes. During a YouTube interview, Friesen admitted that he and his team took Adderall when they played the event in Poland. When used in small doses, this ADHD drug increases users stamina and heightens their alertness; both critical factors in a gaming competition. Lampkin stated that this was when ESL made their decision to implement drug tests.
Lampkin said, "While it is impossible to go back and test the players, this really was the catalyst to demand immediate action for the integrity of our sport”.
Although psychostimulants like Adderall seem to be the most popular among gamers, like in any league, Lampkin expects the PED market to change regularly. In order to stay up with the new drugs, ESL has elicited the help of the anti-doping agencies.
ESL One, taking place in Germany next month, will be the first time ESL will begin skin testing for these PED’s.