eSports aims to end any juicing that isn't Mountain Dew

Pro gaming
ESL to implement drug testing

Being a professional gaming athlete might sound like a dream job to many gamers, but the stakes are high - and growing - and individual matches can be career-defining.

Because of this pressure it has been reported that the use of performance-enhancing drugs in eSports is common.

The drug of choice is a substance called Adderall, an amphetamine used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

US pro Counter Strike: Global Offensive player, Kory 'Semphis' Friesen, caused a storm when he admitted recently that he, and most CS:GO players he knew, were taking the amphetamine to aid concentration.

The Electronic Sports League (ESL) is one of the first eSports groups to respond to this illicit activity and is now looking to implement a fair and transparent anti-doping initiative.

Electronic Sports League

It's working both with Nationale Anti-Doping Agentur (NADA) from Germany and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) from Canada to put together its proposals. NADA will be responsible for putting the anti-doping proposals together and WADA will look at putting a testing policy into effect.

ESL is one of the biggest eSports league operators in the world with over 5 million registered members and over 1 million teams.

It's a sign of how much eSports is growing up that it is bringing in organisations from more established sports. It's this sort of action which the industry needs to take in order for it to be taken more seriously.

High-stakes gaming

"The stakes in eSports are constantly rising and we're in an entirely different place today than we were ten or even five years ago," Anna Rozwandowicz, Head of Communications for ESL, explained to me. "Recent events have sparked internal discussion regarding the issue and have kick-started action we always knew was coming."

It's not just Adderall that ESL is looking to crack down on though.

"We'll be working closely with NADA and WADA to determine an exact list of prohibited substances and the best ways to test for them. Looking at the list of banned substances used in traditional sports is a good place to start," says Rozwandowicz.

"The aim is to provide a level playing field for all competitors, so we're looking to prohibit drugs that would give players that extra edge - Adderall being one of them. We're looking at a long process, but will make sure that players and teams are kept up-to-date with any changes and decisions that we make."

The ESL event in its home town of Cologne in August will be the first event to have random performance-enhancing drug (PED) testing. The consequences of being found to use any of the banned substances varies.

"We are working with our League Operations team to determine a policy on the matter," says Rozwandowicz. "We want to treat doping like any other form of cheating, so it's not unrealistic to expect that players who test positive for PEDs will be disqualified from competition, or face prize money/point deduction, if they are unable to justify the use with a prescription or similar."