The debate over whether eSports are truly sports has been going on for years. Today, eSports took another step toward parity, though an unfortunate one. The Electronic Sports League (ESL) announced today that it will begin testing players for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Last week professional Counter-Strike player Cory “Semphis” Friesen admitted in an interview that he, and most of his team, were using Adderall to assist with their focus during a recent tournament in Poland. Adderall is usually prescribed to ADHD sufferers.
In the wake of that statement Head of Communications for the ESL Anna Rozwandowicz told Motherboard that the ESL have “taken steps to move forward with drugs policing, education, and prevention among participants of [its] competitions.”
Friesen and his team, Cloud 9, will not be punished for their alleged drug use, as there is no way to substantiate that Friesen was telling the truth, and four months after the event no test could prove anybody had Adderall in their system.
Details of exactly how the testing will be handled, and what substances will be banned have not yet been released. An outline of the new policy will be released soon. An eSports drug testing policy promises to look like nothing else in the world of sports. While Adderall is also banned in pro athletic sports, most of the other things you’d see in the NFL or Major League Baseball have no practical benefit in competitive gaming.
File this under the “better late than never” category. The event where Semphis and Cloud 9 allegedly used Adderall had $250,000 in prize money at stake. When we’re talking about that kind of money you have to believe that some players will look for advantages. The MLG and LCS need to take notice. While this particular incident happened outside their leagues, they should take notice and react accordingly. eSports are becoming more legitimate and this is part of what comes with that legitimacy.