That’s right: competitive video gaming will be introduced to the number one nemesis of Tour de France top 10 finishers and athletics world record eraser, amongst others – anti-doping tests. The announcement was made by one of the major gaming leagues, the Electronic Sports League (ESL), after one of its competitors openly admitted to taking Adderall together with his entire Counter-Strike team at a recent event.
Kory Friesen, known by his nickname “Semphis” had an interview with ESPN in which he frankly admitted to his team’s use of Adderall. And when I mean quite frankly, imagine Lance Armstrong telling reporters before the last Paris stage in one of his retired Tour wins something along the lines of “man, I gotta go rest, this whole blood transfusion EPO thing’s getting me f*****g dizzy”.
On a more serious note, Adderall is used in treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD as commonly known – and to that extent increases the user’s alertness and attention to detail. It doesn’t reach the level of stimulant drugs, but it still manages to bring an ADHD sufferer to a normal attention span, and in non-sufferers it greatly helps improve concentration levels and mental reaction speed.
The competition Friesen was referring to was an ESL Counter-Strike tournament which boasted a total prize pool of $250,000. And you have the reason for use of performance enhancers right there – with Adderall tablets costing about $1 a piece, the investment is worth it lieu of the possible financial return.
Unfortunately, this seems to be a widespread practice in gaming tournaments right not. And that’s not judging by the videos of pro gamers twitching as hell during matches with somewhat dilated pupils – but by the casualness with which Semphis admitted to the use of Adderall. He literally said “We were all on Adderall – I didn’t give a f**k” – and such a light hearted confession about using performance enhancement drugs could probably happen only in the context of it being an accepted norm throughout the industry.
The ESL is having none of it and has announced a collaboration with Germany’s national anti-doping agency with the aim of creating a fair anti-doping policy for its events, and also alluded to the possibility of asking the World Anti-Doping Agency of acting as an enforcer.
However, the problem the ESL is facing might not be only in performance enhancement drugs, but also with the games it uses itself. Truth be told, you can be only so good at a game like Counter-Strike as far as mastering tactics and making use of game mechanics goes – in the end, when the top players face off against each other, the tie-breaker comes to who has the fastest reflexes. This might send the ESL down the path of many previous physical sports, were competitors jumped from drug to drug until most performance enhancers were effectively listed.
Still – there is one particular scenario I’m eager to see out of all this. And that requires a Tour de France game somehow rising to e-sports-worthy level, being dominated by some guy for several years, who is then stripped of his titles after confessing to crystal meth saliva transfusion – or some incredibly ridiculous undetectable method – on Oprah 2.0. And then have his titles and prize money stripped while people continue to mistake him for the first man on Mars or Skrillex.
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