Whether Lance Armstrong or the Icarus documentary, or somewhere in-between, we’re all aware of the prolific use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in athleticism.Naturally, they’re frowned upon in the professional arena. Gaining a competitive advantage over others without the privilege isn’t fair play.Caffeine was banned between 1984 and 2004 for Olympians. Creatine has always been allowed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Steroids, though? No.Introducing: The Enhanced Games. Dubbed “the Olympics of the future,” according to their website, it’s a series of events that will allow athletes to take PEDs. It’s essentially encouraging participants to push their bodies as far as they can go, all with the ultimate aim of breaking world records. And, of course, making money.
Not All Of Them!
Their website claims that 44% of athletes ‘dope’, the World Anti-Doping Agency suggests the figure is more like “less than 2%.” According to CNN, the number is likely somewhere around 18%... trust whichever source you see fit.Scrapping team sports entirely, the first Enhanced Games will solely feature individuals and will cover five categories: athletics, aquatics, gymnastics, combat and strength.Originally set for a December 2024 inauguration, the date for the first games now sits hazily in “mid-2025” according to founder Aron D’Souza. He’s best known for leading the litigation between Peter Thiel and Gawker Media (read more here)... which kicks us onto the reason everyone’s been talking about the Enhanced Games the past few weeks.
Big Money Players
Peter Thiel has just been announced as an investor in the games and is one of the top 500 richest people in the world. His notoriety spawns from his ownership of Palantir – a firm known for, amongst other things, providing predictive policing technologies. Not the story today, but one you can jump into if you wish to.
Suffice to say that The Enhanced Games has serious money behind it. Costing mere millions to host, as opposed to the billions of their designated enemy The Olympics, their website reads as a direct attack on the age-old Grecian competition. Their jabs point towards disregarded budgets, infrastructure that's rarely used after the games finish, underpaid and disrespected athletes, aristocratic executives and dictatorial supporting tendencies.
The focus for The Enhanced Games is clearly to make money. Beyond that, though, their focus is to encourage athletes to break world records with whatever tools are available. Banned running shoes and apparel are allowed, in addition to illicit substances.
Aim. Set. Fire.
Unsurprisingly, their website is provocative and bolshy. It needs to be to fight against what is essentially an Olympic monopoly. “The Enhanced Games,” they say, “aims to be the safest international sporting event in history.” Simultaneously, their website also claims that “using steroids… is a demonstration of bravery.” They’re obviously fighting an uphill battle to change the preconceived bias around performance-enhancing drugs. Ultimately, if all parties are consenting, it raises some interesting questions around the morality of using PEDs.
Ultimately, safety will have to be paramount if they don’t want funding to disappear after a heart attack on the 100m starting blocks. Rigorous medical screenings are set to take place before the event. But, the thought on everyone’s mind reading this is: how successful will they be?
Watch The World Burn
There’s an element of NASCAR fandom at play here. You might watch for the sport, but you’re also keeping the idea of a multicar pile-up at the back of your mind. Might sound terrible, but we’re wired to want to see people push boundaries and are dogs when it comes to paying attention to calamities.
With another announcement set for April 2024, and the Olympics taking place this summer, there will undoubtedly be many more twists and turns in the story of the Enhanced Games as they roll towards launch next year.
Is it transparent, progressive, dangerous, ridiculous, honest, exciting, disingenuous? All of the above?
What if the enhanced records are in line with existing natural ones? Does this create a two-tier system for athletes wealthy enough to afford the teams, gear and drugs to push them into competition?
What happens with the FBI? They have a ‘Sports and Gaming Initiative’ unit that specifically deals with doping in sports. Will people get arrested?
One thing’s for sure, it’s exciting. In 2024, eyeballs are everything and this is a story of David vs Goliath…
…if only David had a few billionaires filling up his slingshot.
There were so many different thoughts and ideas we had writing this piece. We'd love to hear what you'd like us to cover next. We're a small team obsessed with wellness and performance.
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