Random Drug Tests for Marijuana and More Coming to This Pro Gaming League

Any use during an ESL tournament is "strictly prohibited," but players won't be punished for recreational use before an event.

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The Electronic Sports League (ESL) has shared new details about its newly announced drug-testing program and policies, which come in the wake of an Adderall scandal at a tournament earlier this year.

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First, the ESL has announced a list of prohibited substances, which the group decided upon after conferring with experts in the field. Among the long list of substances is marijuana.

The drug is banned during competition, but recreational use before the start of an event won't lead to a punishment. "Using it during the tournament--from the start of the first day until the end of the last day of competition--is strictly prohibited," the ESL said in a statement.

Tests will be conducted randomly using saliva tests. The ESL originally planned to use skin tests, but changed its mind after "investigation and consultation" with experts, including World Anti-Doping Agency and Germany's Nationale Anti-Doping Agentur.

"While choosing the kind of test we want to use, we had to consider a couple of important factors," it said. "How invasive the method of testing is, and how reliable will the results be, and how quickly will we get them? Tests will be performed at our discretion at any time during tournament days, and will take place in a designated testing area. Naturally, player's privacy comes first."

Random testing will begin at ESL One Cologne later this month in Germany. Going forward, the ESL said it might expand testing and even make it regular--if this is the case, the group will give notice to players.

"We don't want to exclude the possibility of performing a larger number of tests among all/majority of players at a later stage," the ESL said. "Should the testing policy and method change, we will inform the players accordingly."

If a player has a legitimate prescription for a medication containing one or more of the banned substances, such as Adderall, they should notify the ESL immediately and be prepared to show proof.

"In this case, they have to disclose this to us as soon as possible, but no later than the first match is scheduled to start, the ESL said. "They will be required to provide proof (a letter from a physician, for example) that they need this specific medication."

In terms of punishments, players who test positive will face a range of possible penalties. This could include the deduction of prize money and/or tournament points, a disqualification, or up to a two-year ban from all ESL events. The ESL said it will examine every situation individually. And again, the group is aiming to "ensure players' full privacy."

These new measures come in the wake of professional Counter-Strike player Kory "Semphis" Friesen openly admitting, via Motherboard, that he and his Cloud9 teammates used Adderall during the recent ESL One Katowice tournament in Poland. "We were all on Adderall," he said.

They will not be retroactively punished, however.

Anti-doping protocols are commonplace in traditional sports. With the rising profile of eSports, cheating is likely only going to increase, the ESL said, which makes these anti-doping measures all the more important.

"The growing visibility and popularity of eSports, as well as increasing prize pools, make it not only more tempting for teams and players to break the rules, but also more damaging to our sport as a whole when they do," the ESL said last month.

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