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Professional gaming grows up: Drug testing comes to e-sports at ESL One Cologne

John Gaudiosi | Aug. 25, 2015
Virtually all NFL, MLB, or NBA fans accept drug testing as a part of sports. Now that drug testing has made its debut in professional video game tournaments, it turns out that’s exactly how e-sports fans—and even e-sports pros—feel, too.

Players who fail the test will face any number of sanctions, including losing prize money and tournament points all the way up to a two-year ban from ESL events. It’s worth noting that the use of marijuana is prohibited during any ESL event, but unlike other sports like football, players are allowed to use that drug recreationally outside of tournaments.

Rolling out testing at ESL One Cologne

esl one champions

Sixteen teams were in Germany competing for a piece of a $250,000 prize pool, which is the world’s largest CS:GO tournament. Fnatic won the $100,000 first place prize and Envyus took home the $50,000 second place purse. There were also over 180 media representatives from around the world covering the e-sports event, which was a record for an ESL One event—and many were interested in the alleged doping scandal.

Cloud9’s Gares believes the random drug testing is only a positive for all of e-sports. “Drug testing is something that’s way past overdue in our game,” he said.

At the same time, Gares said the Adderall story got blown way out of proportion by media outlets that never cover e-sports. He noted that one of Cloud9’s players is prescribed Adderall by a doctor and even now with the random drug testing he’s allowed to take it.

American Mike “Hastr0” Rufail, CEO of Team Envyus, is a former pro player who’s been involved in e-sports for nine years. He said there have always been a lot of rumors about players taking drugs like Ritalin or Adderall to have a competitive edge.

“I never saw a player who took a drug, but I’ve heard of players who had,” Rufail said. “If they’re going to compare us to real sports, every mainstream sport went through a similar type of a birth period. It still happens with NFL players who get into trouble for a particular performance enhancing drug and it brings publicity around it. Although it was a negative part of the news in e-sports, it’s created a positive in that we’re taking care of it. And we’re ensuring integrity in the competition.”

“There have always been rumors around people taking something to be a better player, but I hadn’t seen anything so it was shocking to hear that player say they did,” Swedish CS:GO pro player Christopher “Get_Right” Alesund from Ninjas in Pyjamas said. “I’m fine with taking any tests because I don’t take any drugs and I have nothing to hide. We’re playing something professionally and you shouldn’t take anything to give you an advantage. I hope that every other tournament and league does drug tests because that’s an important step to take.”


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