Jul 23 2015 - 10:55 am

ESL will test players for performance-enhancing drugs

ESL has become the first major esports organization to institute drug testing
ESL has become the first major esports organization to institute drug testing. 

The organization announced this morning that it will initiate a new drug policy, and will begin testing next month at ESL One Cologne. In addition, ESL will be partnering with the Nationale Anti Doping Agentur (NADA) and the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA)—two organizations that help sports authorities monitor and prevent drug abuse.

This news confirms an earlier Daily Dot report that ESL was looking into random drug tests along the WADA guidelines.

ESL's policy change comes in the wake of a raging controversy that began when a pro Counter-Strike player claimed his team used Adderall during March's ESL One Katowice. The video quickly made headlines in across the Internet, leading to an open debate about whether performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) should be more closely regulated by tournament organizations.

Adderall is an amphetamine used medically to aid people suffering from ADHD. Taken off prescription, it can be addicting and lead to serious health problems—in addition to being extremely illegal.

ESL is the first organization to step up to the plate since the video was released. In its announcement, the organizations said it will work with NADA and WADA to develop guidelines and rules to help it monitor PED use, along with giving players resources and support "to help them manage the physical and emotional pressure of professional gaming."

As for players who a legitimate medical prescription for drugs classified as PEDs, an ESL representative told the Daily Dot that "we think best practice will be to look at the traditional sports organizations, and work with a system of granting exemptions for those who can present a legitimate prescription... It is my understanding so far that we are going to accommodate those who need Adderall to treat their ADHD symptoms."

In addition to the testing in Cologne, ESL said its policy should extend to "every Intel Extreme Masters, ESL One and ESL ESEA Pro League event thereafter," pending finalizing the policy.

Esports is growing quickly, and ESL is a poster child for the industry. The wildly successful tournament organizer and broadcaster was acquired by Swedish media giant MTG earlier this year. And while issues like PED abuse are bound to come up as more eyes turn to esports, in this case, scandal has brought about changes that will make the esports eco-sphere healthier.

Photo via epSos.de/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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