Performance enhancing drugs have long been a problem with athletes, although it has mainly been confined to events that require physical prowess. However, a recent report alleges that some eSports athletes are also turning to prescription medicines that enhance their ability to play video games.
Online gaming news portal Eurogamer interviewed several eSports athletes who claimed to have used ADHD medicine to increase their ability to concentrate during big matches. Adderall – an amphetamine commonly used to treat nacrolepsy – is a popular drug for this purpose, as it increases the ability of the user to concentrate and block out external distractions.
Adderall itself is banned for most athletes, or at least those who do not need it for actual medical reasons. In this sense, eSports still lags behind in construction a framework for dealing with players attempting to gain an advantage using drugs. Few are even willing to admit that there is a problem.
Several players have admitted anonymously to playing games like Halo and Starcraft on Adderall in order to increase their chances of winning. One player even described how he became addicted to the prescription medication after being given a pill in order to win a pro-gaming match. He claimed that the Adderall allowed him to focus more and calm his nerves when playing in front of a large crowd.
Admittedly, many gamers are not used to be being at the centre of attention in large stadiums, which could potentially affect their ability to perform on a larger stage. Drugs that assist them in blocking out the distractions could be constructed as an unfair advantage over those who do not consumer the drugs.
While most pro-gaming leagues do not explicitly ban performance enhancing drugs, most claim that it is implied in the terms and conditions of the games. League of Legends developers Riot Games does this by stating that no team member is allowed to engage in any activity that is prohibited by law. Although it technically does not cover the consumption of over the counter drugs like Adderall.
The International eSports Federation is currently attempting to be added to the list of sports that prohibit beta blockers, and join other sports like golf and archery. It is a move that is necessary to allow eSports to be recognised as a proper sport. That being said, it is likely that the move to ban performance enhancing drugs is to simply mimic what is done in other sports in order to enhance the claim of being a legitimate sport by association.
Eurogamer’s report has substantial details about the alleged severity of the problem, as well as a closer look at its effects on the players who take performance enhancing drugs.