Esports

Behind The Scenes Doping Control At CS:GO Event Reveals Surprising Truth About Doping in Esports

by Calum Patterson

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Anti-doping agency ESIC has provided an exclusive behind the scenes look into how doping control operates at the major ESL One Cologne CS:GO event, and how it is needed across other esport titles.

ESIC (Esports Integrity Coalition) works with ESL and IEM events, and has tested over 260 players, mainly in the top tier of Counter-Strike, but some other esports less so.

The video shows the process and also details how expensive yet necessary it is to roll this out across the highest level of esports to act as a deterrent.

The Integrity Commissioner, Ian Smith, guides you through the video, and makes some surprising revelations about the level and nature of doping in esports.

Despite increased scrutiny on the issue, Ian actually affirms that through their work they've determined that the problem is perhaps less prevalent than some believe, saying it is 'largely doping free'.

"Throughout that entire process, not only have we had a single positive [result], but also we've surveyed about 400 players. The results of those surveys are that they raise absolutely no concern about doping in the top levels of professional esport.

On top of that, I also receive all of the therapeutic use exemption applications from teams on behalf of players that have been prescribed medications that are own our banned list. This includes Adderall and Ritalin and ADHD type drugs. The number of applications I receive is way below the national prescription rate in North America, for example.

Which surprised me, but it should reassure people that firstly there aren't many guys out there taking adderall or ritalin for medical reasons, never mind for cheating. So I'm reasonably confident in saying top tier esports is largely doping free. I can't be certain of course, but I'm pretty sure."

However, Smith goes on to say that at the lower levels of esports, at the semi-pro or amateur levels, it could be more prevalent. However it is neither practical or cost-sensible to test at these levels.

Smith also wants to see other major tournament organizers and game developers with esports titles become more involved. He says currently ESL are the only ones, and are footing the (expensive) bill themselves.

"ESL are the only esports tournament operator in the entire esports eco-system running drug testing to enforce their anti-doping policy. They're effectively doing it on behalf of every other esports org for the whole industry. 

Now that's not fair. This is a really expensive process, they're spending in excess of $40,000 a year on drug testing. Nobody else, and I'm including the major leagues, Overwatch, Riot, anything within the LCS, nobody else, is doing drug testing.

It's about time that people wake up to the fact that whilst there may be no evidence of drug taking in tier 1 esports, you need a policy and a testing program to act as a deterrent."

Smith is not entirely accurate on this point, as the recent FIFA eWorld Cup tournament did enforce FIFA's standard drug policy and did tests on all the players competing the $400,000 tournament.

Regardless, there does remain increased scrutiny on adderrall usage particularly even at the highest level of esports, something which goes against the majority of organizer's drug policies.