ESL Announces Drug Testing and Anti-PED Policy
The Electronic Sports League (ESL), one of the biggest eSports companies in the world, is going to be making a major change ahead of its upcoming ESL One event in Cologne. The $250,000 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament will be the first ESL run event to feature random drug testing for performance enhancing drugs.
The move by ESL comes after an interview two weeks ago in which Kory Friesen, AKA Semphis, admitted that he and teammates on Cloud 9 were taking Adderall during the ESL One Katowice Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament in March. Cloud 9 was eliminated in the group stage, finishing 3rd in its group, and won $2,000.
In the interview, Friesen alleged that all major competitive CS:GO players were on Adderall. He was quoted in his interview saying, “We were all on Adderall… It was pretty obvious if you listened to the comms.” A later exchange followed in which the interviewer asked “Everyone does Adderall at ESEA LAN right?” Friesen replied “Yeah.”
If you’ve heard of Adderall, it’s likely because it’s commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The competitive advantage from the use of Adderall comes from the fact that the drug allows for the user to have lengthy periods on concentration. Given that a CS:GO player at a tournament would need to be laser-focused for extended periods of time, the ability to work through mental fatigue as aided by Adderall should be a significant competitive advantage.
In response, ESL has announced that they will be launching a drug testing program starting with ESL One: Cologne in August. This is a formalization of the ESL’s current policy regarding drug use that states “To play a match, be it online or offline, under the influence of any drugs, alcohol, or other performance enhancers is strictly prohibited, and may be punished with exclusion.” Germany’s NADA (Nationale Anti Doping Agentur) will handle drug testing for ESL One. ESL also says that they will be partnering with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) to bring their new anti-PED policy to their international events.
ESL says that they will be testing for drugs at their ESL One, Intel Extreme Masters and ESL ESEA Pro League events going forward pending the establishment of an official PED policy. Yes, in their own announcement, ESL admits to not having “the list of banned substances, methods of testing and potential disciplinary actions for players caught using PEDs and/or admitting to having used them” currently established. At least what they’re doing is a step in the right direction but it’s very reactionary to Friesen’s interview. I’m certainly hoping they have a formal policy in place in time for the start of the start of ESL One: Cologne on August 20th.