Professional video gamers to be tested for marijuana in doping crackdown

Many other performance enhancing drugs have been banned in ESL's announcement of its anti-doping policy

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The Independent Tech

One of the world's largest esports organisations has announced the details of an anti-doping policy that is intended to curb the use of performance-enhancing drugs in competitive gaming.

As we reported in July, the Electronic Sports League (ESL) announced they would be partnering with Germany's Nationale Anti Doping Agentur (NADA) and the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) on an anti-drugs policy.

Now, ESL have released the details of their policy in a post on Reddit.

As well as the obvious performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids, growth hormones and everything else on the WADA list of banned substances, ESL announced they would also be banning the use of marijuana during competitions - rustling a few feathers in a culture that is more associated with recreational drug use than most other athletics communities.

After all, as revealed in an interview with Gameplayer, Alex Walker, the tournament director of the Australian World Cyber Games, said: "I've seen a number of players at national tournaments who came in 'baked' purely so they could play better."


"In most cases they did, although obviously they couldn't just pull out another joint midway through."

And earlier this year, in an interview on the popular Launders YouTube gaming channel, professional gamer Kory Friesen admitted that his entire team were on Adderal, an ADHD medication that aids concentration, during a match at a major tournament.

Cloud9, a US video gaming team, admitted to taking Aderall at an ESL tournament in Poland

ESL has always had anti-drugs rules in its rulebook, but they were vague and poorly enforced, threatening violators with "exclusion" if they were caught using drugs at tournaments.

ESL now hopes that by partnering with established anti-drugs bodies who supervise a number of other, more traditional sports, the problem of drug use will be solved.

Players will be tested via a simple saliva test, issued randomly throughout the competition. If they test positive, penalties can range from deductions from points and winnings, to disqualification and a ban of up to two years.

Competitors in ESL matches will be banned from using marijuana during competitions

ESL said they would "look at each case separately" when deciding penalties.

The tests will be given for the first time at ESL One Cologne, a major tournament that takes place at the end of August.

Fortunately for the smokers, their bloodstreams don't have to be totally clean of marijuana before the competition - the use of the drug is only banned from the start of the tournament until the end, meaning recreational use before or after will not be punished.

Esports are growing in popularity and prestige every day, with major tournaments attracting millions of spectators and prizes for major tournaments reaching over a million dollars.