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World's largest e-sports group to start drug testing in wake of Adderall scandal

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It's not just traditional sports that have to worry about performance-enhancing drugs. In the wake of an ongoing controversy surrounding the abuse of Adderall by e-sports players, the Electronic Sports League has said that it will introduce policies to keep drugs out of virtual sports.

"We were all on Adderall."

There are no details yet on how that might work, but the group tells Motherboard that it has "taken steps to move forward with drugs policing, education, and prevention among participants of [its] competitions." The ESL describes itself as the "world's largest e-sports organization," though it's far from the only name in the business, and it doesn't cover some of the largest events, including the championships for Dota 2 and League of Legends.

The news comes not long after Kory Friesen, a high-ranked Counter-Strike: GO player, not only admitted to using Aderrall, but also said that use of the drug was widespread. "We were all on Adderall," Friesen said in an interview, referring to his team in the organization Cloud9. Adderall is used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, but also has the side effect of making people more alert and improving reaction times, making it ideal for e-sports like Counter-Strike, where split-second reactions can mean the difference between winning and losing.

While use of performance-enhancing drugs in e-sports has long been speculated — a lengthy Eurogamer report in August suggested that it was widespread — few players openly admitted to it before Friesen. While it's not clear what kind of punishments the ESL might enforce for those caught using such drugs, the group says that the enforcement won't be retroactive — so Friesen and his teammates won't be punished for the admission. "We can't punish someone if we are not 100 percent sure he is guilty," the group says.

The world's most famous e-sports tournament, The International, will be kicking off on August 3rd with a record-breaking $17.2 million prize pool.

Update, 12:50PM: The ESL has since issued a press release, saying that it is still in the "beginning stages" of forming a plan for dealing with doping in e-sports, which will include issuing the first performance enhancing drug skin tests at an event in Germany next month. The organization has also partnered with some big names to help formulate its official policy, which is still in the works:

In order to maintain the spirit of fair play within e-sports, ESL has partnered with NADA (the Nationale Anti Doping Agentur, which is headquartered in Bonn, Germany) to help create an anti-PED policy that is fair, feasible, and conclusive while also respecting the privacy of players. ESL will also be meeting with WADA (the World Anti Doping Agency, based in Montreal, Canada) so they can be actively involved in the making, enforcing, and dissemination of this policy to additional regions such as the US, Asia, and Australia.

There's no timeline for when the official policy will be instated, but the ESL says that "we will remain proactive in ensuring all professional players and organizations involved in ESL competitions will be kept informed of the initiative’s progress."

Verge Vault: E-sports is big business (2014)