Electronic Sports League Introduces Drug Testing Following Adderall Scandal

Unlike sports like baseball and football where the use of performance enhancing drugs has been a major issue at times, you would think that electronic sports would be immune from such issues. You'd also be wrong. To ensure a level playing field among participants, the Electronic Sports League (ESL) -- one of the biggest eSports organizations around -- is going to implement and enforce drug policies.

What prompted the move is a recent admission by Cory "Semphis" Friesen, a professional Counter Strike: Global Offensive gamer, that he and other players on his team, Cloud9, took Adderall to gain a competitive advantage during a $250,000 tournament in Poland. Adderall is a drug that's intended to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), though it's become a popular street drug, especially on college campuses.

Counter Strike

Why Adderall? In college settings, sleep-deprived students abuse the drug because they feel it can help them stay focused on studying for an upcoming exam. According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health report (PDF) released in 2009, full-time college students between 18-22 years old were twice as likely to use Adderall non-medically compared to their counterparts who were not not full-time students.

Just as some students feel that Adderall can help them concentrate on their studies, there's a concern that professional video gamers can and have abused the prescription drug to stay alert during gaming tournaments.

Despite his admission, Friesen gets a pass for using the drug.

"We have no way of knowing whether Semphis, despite what he said, has actually taken Adderall or not," Anna Rozwandowicz, Head of Communications at ESL, told Motherboard. "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."

Instead, ESL will do the next best thing, which is to implement an anti-doping policy. However, ESL isn't the only professional gaming league, and it will be interesting to see if other organizations like the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) take a similar stance.