The eSports scene was rocked last week by a professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player admitting that his entire team was on Adderall during a major tournament. As a result, the Electronic Sports League (ESL) announced Thursday that it is taking step to keep performance-enhancing drugs out of the competitive gaming scene.
"ESL has an ongoing commitment to safeguarding the integrity of our competitions and providing a fair playground for professional players," the self-described "world's largest eSports company" announced in a press release. "With this in mind, today we're announcing further steps our organization is taking, to determine and enforce guidelines and rules surrounding the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) at ESL events."
The ESL plans to work with the NADA (Nationale Anti Doping Agentur, located in Bonn, Germany) to develop an anti-PED policy. The WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) is also being involved to help with make and enforce anti-PED policies in the U.S., Asia, and Australia.
While enforcement and testing policies are still being constructed, ESL will administer randomized PED skin tests at the ESL One Cologne this August. "Our aim is to perform those tests at every event in the Intel Extreme Masters, ESL One and ESL ESEA Pro League competitions," the organizer said.
The action taken by ESL can be seen as a direct response to former Cloud9 team member Kory "SEMPHIS" Friesen. The professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player stated in an interview picked up by Motherboard that all the teams at the ESL One Katowice event that took place in Poland this past March was using Adderall, a psychostimulant meant to treat ADHD, but is also abused by some to help with concentration.
"The ESL comms were kind of funny in my opinion," Friesen said of the communication between his teammates during Katowice matches. "I don't even care. We were all on Adderall. I don't even give a f***. It was pretty obvious if you listened to the comms. People can hate it or whatever."
When asked directly in the interview with Mohan "Launders" Govindasamy if all the teams use Adderall during league events, Friesen said "Yeah." He then went on to explain that use of the drug is why the communications between players during matches sound "so hectic."
An April report from Eurogamer also claimed that the use of Adderall in eSports competition was widespread, though it only got players to talk about its use anonymously. Few players have been willing to admit publicly that they used PEDs or that its use was widespread prior to Friesen.
The ESL already has rules barring the use of drugs, alcohol, and performance enhancers during tournaments. However, it did not have a testing policy to go along with it, so players were unlikely to get caught.
As the prize pools for eSports has grown into the millions of dollars and tournaments are packing in stadiums, the temptation to use PEDs has only increased. Testing for PEDs is unfortunately a necessary evil, like other competitive sports ranging from the NFL to the Olympics, to keep the competition fair.