ESL is changing its policies in light of Counter-Strike doping claim

ESL on doping claim

In light of ex-Cloud9 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player Kory Friesen’s admission that he competed in tournaments while under the influence of Adderall, ESL is making changes to its policies and adjusting the rules of e-sports tournaments. 

“The integrity of our sport is and always will be our biggest concern,” Anna Rozwandowicz, head of communications at ESL told Wired. “When we first saw [Friesen’s comments], we focused immediately on kickstarting a policy-making process and adjusting the rules. We have worked on changes in our rules, reached out to authorities for support, and will be ready to announce our next steps in a couple of days. When that comes out, you can treat that as our full statement on the issue.”

While ESL does have rules against players competing while on drugs, including alcohol, other than an incident when a player showed up drunk, ESL has never found out about a player taking drugs, until now. So there’s no list of repercussions, Rozwandowicz admitted.

“Contrary to what [Friesen] says in his interview, taking performance enhancing drugs isn’t ‘how you win’ those tournaments, and it’s counter-productive in the long run,” she continued. “Like in any sport, you win by practicing and working hard.”

In Friesen’s case, the incident took place so long ago that it’s not possible for ESL to prove it. Friesen is also no longer with Cloud9, after being removed due to his (and his team’s) poor performance.

“We have no way of knowing whether he is telling the truth, or just being upset about being removed from the team and trying to annoy them,” Rozwandowicz said. “We’ve had cases of players admitting to cheating, but then denying everything once they found out they can get disqualified and banned for it. Upon investigating, it became clear that the games were played according to the requirements and were protected by anti-cheat software, so no cheating was possible.”

ESL will be announcing changes to the way it handles these incidents soon, and it sounds like they’ll be bringing e-sports more in line with traditional sports in how they deal with doping.

“While it is and will remain about protecting the integrity of our sport, things like that have to be done right. So there needs to be a policy, a process, a governing body, an appeal system and what not — just like in any other sport. We’re taking the steps to level with traditional sports, and it’s going to take a while before any esports organisation will administer regular drugs tests. We hope to speed this process up by proactively seeking advice from authorities and starting small. Full blown drug tests at esports events are far away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t try to tackle the issue.”