The ESL says "NO" to performance-enhancing esport drugs

In the wake of pro-gaming's worst kept secret, the Electronic Sports League plans to test cyber-athletes for Adderall.

Oh, eSports, you're becoming more and more like traditional sports every day! Your athletes enjoy celebrity status, your largest events fill stadiums with thousands of cheering fans, and now you've got your very own "doping" controversy!

Adderall is a psychostimulant amphetamine used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) by improving focus and alertness. If you've ever been to college, you're also probably aware that Adderall is frequently abused, sold, and traded to individuals without prescriptions to assist in late-night cramming sessions. Now it seems that abuse has crossed over into the competitive gaming circuit, where 25 milligrams of extra focus could make all the difference.

When Cory "Semphis" Friesen admitted to using Adderall in an interview last week, it didn't come as much of a surprise to many fans--and that's the problem.

2.6.4 Drugs and Alcohol

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 from the ESL One.

Now that Friesen's statements have brought this issue into the spotlight, it appears that The ESL is finally taking action to prevent further incidents. Responding to an email from Motherboard, ESL Head of Communications Anna Rozwandowics announced that the ESL will be taking "steps to move forward with drugs policing, education, and prevention among participants of [its] competitions."

While this means the implementation of a new policy, this does nothing to penalize those who have so frequently broken the rule in the past--including Cory Friesen.

"We have no way of knowing whether Semphis, despite what he said, has actually taken Adderall or not. We can't punish someone if we are not 100 percent sure he is guilty. And as we have no way to test it anymore (we're four months after the event), we won't take action in this specific case."

Published Jul. 23rd 2015
View Comments
  • kate.farrow
    Community Manager
    It'll be interesting to see what they do about people who actually have a prescription. And do those people have a competitive advantage?
  • CallSignDriver
    Featured Correspondent
    I read in another post that even people with prescriptions to banned medication are generally prohibited from participating in traditional sports, but I never did fact check that for myself.
    This sucks because I would presume the e-sports community probably has plenty of competitors with legitimate needs for this medication.
  • kate.farrow
    Community Manager
    Exactly! So people who actually need medication either have to play at a disadvantage (because they can't take their medication) or can't participate at all. :/
  • MrFester
    I love how the computer gaming community has decided to come into the real world. Look these statements you are making, have been said before in professional sports cases, way before this website was even founded.

    Plus the ESL said they would do tests, they did not say what they would do with the results of those tests. Like most organizations here in the States, they just ignore the results unless a player acts out of line. Then they pull the results out and say lookie here what we found.
  • IntCel
    And yet they drug kids if they won't focus.

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