Doping in Esports – A Question of Ethics


When people talk about professional athletes and doping, chances are someone’s career has just been ruined and now people from all around the world can’t believe that he/she was using doping. Big doping scandals are basically the only time we hear about doping and its regulation in professional sports. However, with the rise of esports, regular sports aren’t the only kid in the block who knows about doping. Not by a long shot!

You see, doping in esports has been a burning, itching question ever since its rise to the mainstream stage. Now more than ever, people of power (regulators, bookmaker owners and so on) are questioning the integrity of esports due to several scandals that have already struck the industry.

That’s why, today, we are going to discuss the matter at hand. More precisely, we are going to discuss doping in esports, go through the most recent scandals and analyze the potential risks of doping. There is a whole bunch of stuff ahead of us so let’s jump straight to action!

What Does Esports Doping Represent?

But what does doping in esports actually represent? After all, steroids and other anabolic substances don’t really help esports athletes, do they?

This is the sort of questions you’ll come up against when talking about esports doping. The majority of people associate doping with steroids and similar anabolic substances, all of which are banned in conventional sports disciplines all around the globe. These products improve, alter and optimize the players’ body conditions, allowing them to perform at 110% which is, of course, illegal and unfair towards athletes who aren’t using banned substances. But, since esports players don’t need to be stronger or more explosive to be successful, many people think there are no doping products in esports.

However, this statement is far from the truth since we’ve already seen quite a few scandals related to esports doping. More about this can be found out right down below:

Are Professional Esports Athletes Using Performance Enhancing Drugs?

Is a frog’s ass water tight? Let’s be realistic here – in all types of competitive sports, there will always be people looking for that extra bit of edge over the competition… legal or illegal, most of the time it doesn’t even matter. In esports circles, substance abuse is actually more common than most people think.

Back in 2017, Peter “ppd” Dager tweeted how demoralizing it is to watch all young esports starts abuse Adderall. This tweet just confirms what the big heads in esports have been trying to figure out for quite a while – Doping in esports is a problem!

But what is Adderall? What other types of substances are professional esports athletes using to boost their performance? After all, steroids and other anabolic substances won’t really give them the competitive advantage they need. Well, we’re forgetting that there are lots of stimulants which are based on increasing one’s cognitive functions. And, as we all know, that is exactly what some professional esports athletes need to be at their best.

Most Popular Performance Enhancing Drugs in Esports?


Adderall is the most popular performance enhancer used by professional esports athletes. Adderall is basically the biggest secret of the entire industry that could pose as a huge integrity risk. We are talking about a sophisticated stimulant that’s composed of amphetamines. It is commonly prescribed to both adults and children with ADHD diagnosis. However, it is often used “illegally” as a performance enhancer due to its cognitive boosting effects.


However, there’s another type of performance enhancing drugs in esports in addition to Adderall. They are called nootropics and are generally quite popular among students too. But students are most commonly using them during their studying sessions in finals season, they are not competing in professional esports manifestations, watched by millions of people in live competitive events with thousands of people betting on the outcome.

Recent Esports Doping Scandals

The first big esports doping scandals emerged onto the scene all the way back in 2015. That’s when Kory “Semphis” Friesen admitted he and his entire team were all on Adderall during one of their $250,000 tournaments. The entire esports community was shocked by his words even though Friesen, at the first glance, didn’t even realize what he said.

After a huge turmoil over the issue of doping in esports, many influential people suggested doping as the primary problem that the esports industry is facing. Having players on PEDs that are banned across the most popular sports such as NFL, MLB and NHL surely isn’t a good image for an up-and-coming industry such as esports. Needless to say, that state of affairs could’ve led to potential risks which could further damage the integrity. Luckily, the issues were addressed in due time and potential risks were cut down significantly.

Doping in Esports | Potential Risks

The last couple of years (mostly after Friesen doping scandal), there were lots of question regarding the integrity of esports. More precisely, there were lots of questions about the doping scandals in the industry. And we are not just talking about Friesen’s admission, there were other doping scandals too. All of them together formed a dark cloud which posed as a huge risk for esports integrity. And we all know such a rapidly growing industry can’t allow integrity issues if it wants to continue with its exponential growth. If esports wanted to be taken seriously, such issues needed to be taken care of immediately. Luckily, ESL showed up like the Good Guy Greg they are…

To stop all this fuss from going out of control, ESL decided to create and enforce their very own anti-doping policy. In coalition with So, let’s say a couple of words about it, shall we!?

ESL is in Charge of Running Doping Tests in the Esports Industry

Even though ESL (formerly known as Electronic Sports League) is mainly an esports production company as well as an event organizer, it’s also involved in creating, organizing and enforcing their anti-doping policy. In fact, they are the only company that’s running doping tests in the top levels of competitive esports. Believe it or not, they are not only enforcing their policy for their own events, but they are also doing it for other top-tier event organizers as well. Drug testing is quite an expensive business so kudos to ESL for doing a favor to the entire industry!

However, after ESL started running doping tests on top-tier tournaments, they had to make exceptions for players with prescriptions for Adderall and similar ADHD-treating supplements. On the other hand, such a system could be seen as a loophole in a way, even though the regulators are certain there are no active cases of abuse.

Latest News from ESIC Look Great

Everything that’s been already stated about the matter at hand makes the world of esports look like a place filled with banned substances. While all of this might be true for the majority of competitive esports industry, the top tiers are surprisingly “clean”.

Mr. Ian Smith, Esports Integrity Commissioner, stated the following:

“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 esports.”

He also stated that the number of professional esports athletes with prescriptions to banned substances (Adderall and Ritalin for example) is way below the national North American prescription rate. Both of these statements sound great and bring hope that the top levels of competitive esports are doping-free. We should also note that the lower levels of competitive esports are too wide and way too expensive to properly enforce.

Unfortunately, this means they will probably remain in the doping stain of the industry. With ESL too busy with top-tier esports, there are no other companies with the required know-how and funds needed for enforcing their anti-doping policy. Hopefully, in the near future, this will change and we will able to watch all levels of competitive play without worry about doping at all.

no responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.