The Banned Substances of Esports

The Banned Substances of Esports

By Evan Schwab

In the grand world of sports (Esports included), the real thrill comes from watching two opponents on an even playing field clash. Whether baseball, football, or Overwatch, each sport requires a particular set of skills to defeat the opposing team and claim victory. Sometimes, the prizes are world famous - like a coveted super bowl championship or the world series trophy - and others reward its players with massive payouts (like Esports tournaments). In all of these scenarios, however, one thing is certain: illegal substances that gives a player an unfair advantage when competing are strictly banned. Of course, specific substances (like Adderall, for example) can be used with direct permission from a league commissioner or tournament authority, and other substances can be used to help build strength or focus legally. But there is a list of dark substances that can tip the tides of competition too heavily in any direction (think Barry Bonds and his ridiculous body transformation and home run record) and must remain on the banned list. Today, we’ll talk about the substances that are banned throughout Esports - and, most importantly, what Adderall is and consists of.

In-Competition Banned Substances

  • Stimulants: This one seems pretty straight forward. Drugs like Adrafnil that increase awareness, vigilance, etc. are prohibited with few exceptions.
  • Narcotics: This one also makes a lot of sense. There’s no need to take some morphine before the big Counter Strike game.
  • Cannabinoids: Whether you believe cannabis should be legalized in the States is irrelevant. For the purposes of competition - especially Esports - ingesting a calming substance can give the upper hand to a team in high stress situations.
  • Glucocorticoids: These little supplements help prevent inflammation, but they’re steroids. They also come with some serious side effects that can cause severe bodily harm.

  • There is one substance that has been the center of attention for a while now. The aforementioned Adderall is pretty much a universally banned drug in sports and Esports. Of course, doctor prescribed Adderall for medically legitimate reasons has been allowed in sports (Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles, for example, must renew permission each year from the commissioner in order to use Adderall whilst playing baseball). With that said, however, it is traditionally banned for good reason. While Adderall helps those who suffer from ADHD or narcolepsy, gamers will traditionally utilize Adderall to increase focus, stamina, consistency, and playability.

    Since amphetamines fall under the stimulant category, it is an illegal substance for use in the Esports arena. Likewise, the ingredients in Adderall typically fall under the illegal substance list, as well. Each tablet of Adderall consists of four specific active ingredients. The list is as follows: Dextroamphetamine Saccharate, Amphetamine Aspartate Monohydrate, Dextroamphetamine Sulfate, and Amphetamine Sulfate. Each of these, as you can see, is clearly some form of amphetamine. Amphetamines - all of the aforementioned ingredients - are designed to decrease reaction time, increase muscle strength, and reduce fatigue. In fact, the benefits of ingesting Adderall, in particular, was so appealing that, before the ESL worked to create a banned substance list, a good majority of Esports competitors were taking them.

    Interestingly, the ESL has also included steroids to its banned substance list. You might question why anabolics are banned in the world of video games, as it, at least on the surface, appears to have little connection with competitive gaming. Steroids make for a logical ban in sports like baseball, for example, but the ESL felt compelled to add it to its illegal substance list. And you might have a valid point. When the ESL introduced its banned substance list, they received a hefty amount of criticism. The idea behind banning the substances stems from a desire to eliminate psychostimulants and “smart drugs” that had been trending negatively in the Esports industry. By casting a large net and using a pre-set standard of banned substances set by the World Anti-Doping Industry, the ESL sought to eliminate all potential issues.

    In fact, at the bottom of this article, I’ll link you to the World Anti-Doping Industry, which splits up all of the banned substances in separate categories. (In-Game, All time, and per sport bans). You can see that the list seems pretty lengthy and lists an extreme amount of banned substances. Still, the standard is set in place in order to eliminate the chance of any substance to slip through unscathed. Since professional Esports organizations are dishing out millions of dollars each year to run events, reward victors, advertise, and more, it makes sense that the same organizations would seek some sort of level playing field for its contenders. Lance Armstrong was stripped of a number of his championships once his PED use was uncovered, casting a dark shadow over the former idol and the sport of cycling. Esports, still in its infancy, cannot afford to be plagued by such a darkness.

    Ultimately, as the world continues to change and research continues to flow forth, more substances will be added and/or removed from the illegal substances list. Steroids, too, may one day find freedom in Esports when the dust has settled and the appropriate drugs and substances are appropriately weeded out. Until then, those dedicated to professional gaming must stay clean of any substance and fight the fair fight - for the future and longevity of Esports.