As eSports continue to gain legitimacy in the larger world of athletics, their problems continue to be more amplified, as well. The Electronic Sports League, which was founded in 1997, announced this week that it will begin a random drug testing program, designed to prevent gamers from using performance-enhancing substances like Adderall. This has all come to a head after a pro player admitted that his whole team took the ADHD medication during a recent tournament in Poland.
In the past few seasons, the NFL has found itself in a similar position regarding Adderall. That league considers it both a drug of abuse and a performance-enhancing drug. In Major League Baseball, Miguel Tejada got a 100-game suspension for using the drug without permission in 2013.
What’s clear as well is that there are many ways to cheat in gaming and people likely do it all the time. Match fixing. Software for cheating. Win trading. It’s all there. But drug testing isn’t perfect, and as the money gets bigger, and the exposure becomes greater, the incentive to bend the rules in competition will only increase. A couple colleges are even now offering scholarships for kids to play video games.
Last year, ESPN’s John Skipper said that gaming was not a sport. Yet, his network is broadcasting its events and the industry is pulling in global revenues to the tune of $20 billion. The U.S. government is even recognizing gamers as professional athletes, allowing them to be awarded visas to enter the country and work.
But then again, Colin Cowherd spent time earlier this year ripping gaming and its value in sports, which means that they’re probably doing something right, overall.