Preventing drastic measures – it’s time to implement an anti-doping structure in esports

Esports has come a long way over the past few years, reaching out to millions of viewers worldwide, the NA LCS switched to a franchising model and the Overwatch League secured an impressive sum for their broadcasting rights. Times are changing. They are changing fast. But despite esports starting to prove it is able to stand on its own, there still are a lot of people not involved, questioning the longevity and professionalism of the scene. If money and viewership number don’t seem to be a problem, is the lack of structure the issue? So, what could lead for esports to be taken seriously on a more professional level, by those still doubting its legitimacy as a sport?

According to a report of Globo Esporte esports section, Riot Brazil is looking to implement an anti-doping test for the Brazilian League of Legends Circuit CBLoL. Does esports need to take sports percussions to be considered as a sport? The answer is clearly yes. Implementing anti-doping isn’t even a new concept: The ESL has been testing on how to do proper anti-doping tests since 2015. Many of their CS:GO tournaments have already an anti-doping test prior the events, which resulted in a lot of controversies and was even commented by Richard Lewis in the past.

Why are “Anti Doping” tests returning to the limelight? If you missed some of the most controversial events of the past year in traditional sports is that the Russian Federation got banned from the Winter Olympics due to a Doping Scandal. If you can’t imagine the heights of this doping conspiracy I highly recommend watching the Netflix documentary Icarus. Not only has this documentary played a major role in documenting this scandal but it is also drawing a lot of attention to the topic as it is running in the category “best documentary” in many of the year’s award ceremonies.

Esports has seen drug abuse scandals in the past. In 2015 Cloud 9’s CS:GO team was accused of using Adderall, eventually leading to the player Semphis bringing out a statement confirming the use. This isn’t even the first scandal. Since the beginning of esports competitions in the West, the use of Adderall has been a point of discussion in many scenes, many forums, and social media. You just need to google the game of your choice alongside the word Adderall and you will get a lot of articles and forum posts. Sadly, a lot of those discussions is about the abuse of Adderall at several gaming competitions.

In the end, it doesn’t even matter the drug you use, as long as it affects the performance. From alcohol to weed to the use of performance-enhancing substances, all of these can affect the performance for the better or worse. The need to create fairness in a competition requires that everyone enters the stage on the same circumstances and without any external advantage. The use of substances would count as an external influence to enhance performance and could impact the end result of the competition, solely with the players having a clear advantage by using the substance. Obviously, this will lead to a lot of players willing to try, willing to use such substances just in order to keep up with the competition. It’s therefore not surprising seeing the Cloud9 team using Adderall to get an advantage and creating the possibility of others following to be able to keep the pace when playing for huge amounts of money. Here is where the importance of a controlled area comes in.

Esports is still in its infancy.The whole industry as we know it today is merely about ten to twenty years old. Nobody has completely figured out what works and what not. However, we can learn from other industries’ mistakes and prevent those from happening in ours. Just to keep it growing, keeping it alive and most importantly keeping it healthy. We just need to open up the history books of traditional sports and study the effects, the whole business built around doping and how it affects the sports negatively. We, the industry can prevent getting close to such a point like Russia has reached within the Olympics. If we control it right from the start. It is in our best interest.

Esports doesn’t need anti-doping to be recognized as a sport. It doesn’t need to be recognized as a sport. But substance abuse will keep on being a possibility for as long as we let it grow without any form control or observation. We will need anti-doping tests just as anti-cheating measures in every event if we want to keep esports as clean as possible. not for the recognition of others but for the health of our own scene. It will just need someone to start it and we will learn how to do it on the go.

Alexandre Weber
Esports content creator and League of Legends Coach since 2015. Coached KLG to Wildcard Finals in 2015. Cinema Student and Storyteller.