‘Someone will die’: Enhanced Games risks athletes’ lives, says Australian sports chief

The Enhanced Games is propsing an Olympics-style format where doping is permitted

Ben Fleming
Tuesday 19 March 2024 14:55 GMT
Former world champion swimmer James Magnussen will come out retirement to compete
Former world champion swimmer James Magnussen will come out retirement to compete (Getty Images)

Australian Sports Commission boss Kieren Perkins has delivered a stark warning over the Enhanced Games, suggesting “someone will die” if the event is allowed to go ahead.

The Enhanced Games would see an Olympics-style mega-event without drug testing, with founder Dr Aron D’Souza hoping to lure Olympic athletes with vast payments and bonuses should they break long-standing world records.

The controversial format has received the financial backing of Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, but has been derided by many in the mainstream sporting establishment, including former double Olympic gold medallist swimmer and Australian sports chief Perkins.

“The idea of an Enhanced Games is laughable,” he said at the SportNXT conference on Tuesday. “Someone will die if we allow that sort of environment to continue to prosper and flourish.

“We don’t want people to be taking performance-enhancing drugs because of the significant impact it has on them and their future and their future families.”

Lord Coe suggested athletes would be “moronic” to consider competing in the event (PA Archive)

Other prominent figures, such as World Athletics president Lord Coe have labelled the idea as “nonsense”, while the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has suggested it is “a dangerous and irresponsible concept”.

D’Souza, meanwhile, has maintained the safety of the event which would include a “sophisticated safety protocol” of health checks before and after competition.

In an interview with The Independent in January, D’Souza also outlined how he hoped the Enhanced Games would not only shake up the world of sport but would provide a public platform for life-extending science to thrive.

The event, which is yet to confirm a date or venue for its inaugural edition, garnered its first high-profile sign-up in February when former world champion swimmer James Magnussen announced he would come out of retirement to compete. The Australian has not competed since 2019 but said he would “juice to the gills” in an attempt to break the long-standing 50m freestyle record and claim a $1m bonus.

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