Kory “SEMPHIS” Friesen wasn’t the first eSports player to talk about using so-called “performance-enhancing” drugs during professional video game tournaments, but he is certainly the most prominent player to talk about it in 2015.
“We were all on Adderall,” Friesen told YouTube interviewer Mohan “Launders” Govindasamy in an interview published in mid July 2015. He was referencing a $US250,000 prize tournament in Poland in March 2015 held by the Electronic Sports League (ESL) — one of the oldest and largest leagues in eSports.
The world of eSports, now a multimillion dollar international industry, is taking action to stem the use of Adderall and other drugs reportedly used during professional tournaments. The ESL announced in late July 2015 that it would screen its next big tournament later this year. And this week, the ESL announced exactly how it will handle screenings — the first drug screenings for PEDs ever conducted in the history of eSports — as well as what substances will be banned.
The list of substances is maintained by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and contains what you’d expect: amphetamines (which includes Adderall) and methylphenidate (Ritalin), as well as drugs like cocaine, heroin, and oxycodone. The ESL gets more specific when it comes to cannabinoids (marijuana). This is pulled directly from the ESL’s Reddit FAQ:
Is ESL prohibiting the usage of marijuana?
During the competition, we are. Marijuana is on the list of prohibited substances for during the competition. This means that recreational use of it outside (before) the event days will not be punished. Using it during the tournament – from the start of the first day until the end of the last day of competition – is strictly prohibited.
Simply put: don’t smoke pot during the competition. Before or after? Totally cool.
Rather than screening every individual competitor, the ESL is handling screening at its first screened event — ESL One Cologne 2015 on August 23 through 25 — on a random basis. That doesn’t mean things won’t change in the future, of course. Again, from the ESL’s Reddit FAQ:
We don’t want to exclude the possibility of performing a larger number of tests among all/majority of players at a later stage. Should the testing policy and method change, we will inform the players accordingly.
Players who do get screened will have a saliva test administered, and it can happen at any point during a given tournament’s schedule. The ESL is also providing a solution for players who are prescribed any medications that might violate tournament drug-screening rules, which involves informing ESL officials before tournament play begins. Pretty simple.
As for punishment? It sounds like the ESL is still working that out. The announcement only lists a range (“from getting prize money/tournament points deducted, to disqualification and up to a two year ban from ESL events”), and specifically says it will work with each player that comes up positive on an individual basis.
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