Pro Gaming League Announces Plans to Drug Test Players

By McCarton Ackerman 07/24/15

Top players like Cory “Semphis” Friesen admitted that players are "all on Adderall."

E-sports competition
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Several franchises in the pro sports world have implemented policies this year which call for more stringent drug testing, but this practice is now carrying over into so-called e-sports.

Despite the fact that most pro gamers don’t appear to be athletically inclined, The Electronic Sports League announced this week that it will now begin drug testing for performance enhancing substances at future events. ESL Head of Communications, Anna Rozwandowicz said in an email to Motherboard that details of the new policy will be shared soon, but that it will involve “drugs policing, education, and prevention among participants of [its] competitions."

The new policies are being implemented after Cory “Semphis” Friesen, a top professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player, admitted last week that he and other members of his former team used Adderall during a $250,000 tournament last March in Poland. Because Adderall can enhance cognitive abilities and improve focus, it can be assumed that the drug would facilitate the attention to detail and immediate reaction times that competitive gaming requires.

“I don’t even care. We were all on Adderall. I don’t even give a fuck,” said Semphis in a YouTube interview. “It was pretty obvious, like if you listen to the comms. People can hate it or whatever.” The interviewer also noted that, “Everyone does Adderall at [the gaming competition] ESEA LAN. Just throwing that out there for the fans. It’s how you get good.”

But because ESL didn’t have formal drug use policies in place at the time, Rozwandowicz said he will not be retroactively punished.

“We have no way of knowing whether Semphis, despite what he said, has actually taken Adderall or not," she wrote. "We can't punish someone if we are not 100% sure he is guilty. And as we have no way to test it anymore, we won’t take action in this specific case.”

It’s unclear how ESL’s plans for drug testing will affect other organizations in the gaming world. The League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) and Dota 2's The International (TI) event have not responded to the scandal or announced any plans for future testing.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.