Imagine this: You’re blasting your way through tight corridors in Call of Duty. You’re jumping and tossing sticky grenades like a champ, camping out, sniping b*tches and knifing unsuspecting bastards in their backs. Behind you is a throng of fans, cheering on your every button mash. You’re a sponsored video gaming professional, and your job is to frag fools on your way to winning hefty tournament prizes.
But, out of your peripheral you notice something strange. Your gaming buddy and opponent HookerFace6112 is acting weird. He’s sweating, pumping his fists in the air, and listening to Skrillex through one of his iPhone’s earbuds (a gaming headset is in the other ear, of course). It isn’t until later, after the tournament, that sweat-soaked HookerFace6112 admits to you that he took some MDMA before the games. This could have been prevented, and it will be come August because professional video game tournaments — also known as E-sports — are getting drug testing.
Drug testing is not going to be implemented all across the board in the E-sports world, just the Electronic Sports League for now; it’s one of the biggest E-sports groups out there. Also, it’s not really MDMA that E-sports professionals are worried about. The big “no-no” as of now — the list of banned drugs have not been released yet — seems to be Adderall. The ESL will be using the same anti-doping agency that’s used for the Olympics, but let’s not poo-poo E-sports right away. The New York Times reports that the industry is seeing unprecedented growth: prize money will reach $71 million this year.
At the ESL One Cologne event in August, ESL will begin to administer randomized skin tests. As Kotaku points out, there are two problems with this. One issue is that skin tests are not that reliable. The other, is that these early tests will be administered by the ESL and not a third-party agency. That means — and this is something that the UFC ran into before they got the USADA to step in and take over testing — the tests can be held up to scrutiny.
It remains to be seen if other E-sports groups take the ESL’s lead and add anti-doping policies to their programs, but as the sport (?) gains popularity — along with truckloads of cash — it’s possible that this will be implemented in many organizations.
Please, someone get HookerFace6112 a towel.