Is drug use a problem for eSports?


According to the piece, few athletes are willing to go on the record about the issue…

What an unusual use of the word “athlete.”


Steven saw immediate benefits. He joined a Halo team

I would consider that an adverse effect.

On-topic, Brain Doping has been a topic of concern in the academic / educational spheres.

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What’s the problem? As long as the tech is available to me, I am okay with it.

We need more working, knowledgeable people out there. Anything that helps absorbing and mastering knowledge, and gets projects done, helps towards that goal.

As an example, Paul Erdos was high on amphetamine pretty much all the time. I dare to say that a single paper in the most obscure sub-field of number theory is worth more than all the bioethicists’ objections combined.


I find it odd that we continually refer to amphetamine by its brand name in such articles. The source article refers to it as “a prescription amphetamine.” This isn’t some selectively substituted designer smart drug: it’s straight-up amphetamine. Speed is speed.

There’s the public health problem anytime amateur psychonauts get peer-pressured into dosing without adequate education or supervision.

There’s also the fairness problem inherit in framing the issue as “available” and not “access.” I’m sure the Red Bull and Monster Energy Drink sponsors would love to provide performance enhancers to their eSports teams. But if that gives them an edge over less well-funded competitors, is that good for the sport? Let alone the poor filthy casuals practicing at home, will they need to start dosing to even have a chance to break into an eSports career?

I’m not taking the strong “con” position, but I can acknowledge there’s some legit downsides to brain-doping becoming a standard practice in any mental competition.

That is also a cultural problem. The prohibition approach is “don’t do it”. I’m all in favor of more knowledge between the people in order to “do it right”.

What makes sports useful is that they are a betatesting field for performance enhancing technologies. And the testing results, good and bad, are more likely to spill to the public for adoption than when it is only the military that does it.

True that, but these are just the competitions. Nice to watch and so on but that’s about it.

There are real-world endeavors that need a lot of brains and a lot of attention and a lot of work. Any kind of “doping” that gets tested in the world of sports and spills into where it actually matters for the future is a good thing, I would say.


The tendency to borrow the (overtly pejorative) term from the athletic context gives it a distinct air of moral panic.

In athletics, you’ve got people engaged in a competitive; but externally meaningless and non-productive, activity defined by its set of rules. With the exception of modifications demanded by audience disinterest or excessive mortality, the rules of the game are the highest authority. You don’t need a reason to allow or forbid any particular medical technique, any more than you need a reason for aluminum bats being forbidden in the major leagues.

In academics and education, ‘the rules’ isn’t really good enough. Doesn’t mean that anything goes, some practices are overtly contrary to the endeavor, like plagiarism; but there is a much higher bar to clear. Perhaps more importantly, education and academics both serve a variety of noble purposes, such that medical (and other, hi Mr. Gutenberg!) technologies that make us better at them are not merely ‘non-forbidden’; they are good, progress, all that fun stuff.

I strongly suspect that there are some ‘smart’ drugs that are actually a really terrible plan. Brains are complex and poorly understood, and team biology says “you can never do only one thing” for a reason. However, as in medicine, where the same problems exist, that’s a call for improvement; because the status quo is pretty lousy.

If academics were ‘the memorizing Aristotle and engaging in disputations sport’, progress would be irrelevant, and having rules against doping would be merely a question of convention. I certainly hope that this is not the case.


Where you say “externally meaningless,” I see $125 million.

I think we can all acknowledge that achievement in traditional athletics, academics, and education are each major pathways for financial enrichment.

Inasmuch as eSports seek to borrow the positive trappings from the athletic context (glorifying the phenomenal talent / hard practice of individuals and corporate sponsors looking to sell a few more video cards, “gaming” laptops, and high-performance mice), then eSports will also attract the negative connotations: cheating (h4xx0rs), throwing games, and doping.

So, is it ok that a student that has the wherewithal to acquire and correctly use amphetamines to maintain an academic scholarship beats out a disadvantaged student who lacks such discretionary income? I think the evidence already favors those who come from high SES, and I’m not a fan of policies where the major benefit is for the rich to get richer.

Yes, like types of speed featured in the OP? If only we had a TV show be the focus of a national conversation on the pros and cons of speed.

As long as we also let pitchers use tar, spit, grease, vaseline, and sandpaper, then sure let’s start a league and play ball. Last I checked neither bats nor grease were habit forming nor had deleterious side-effects.

Why it is not the same issue as the ability to buy more/better books, to hire a tutor, or to spend the afternoon studying instead of an after-school job?

We need more and better scientists/engineers. I don’t care that much about their socioeconomic background - what I need is their results. Making conditions more equal is good but only for as long as it does not result in loss of capabilities of the top-performing ones; so let’s them stack all the bonuses they got and go kill the monsters that we all are facing.

It’s bad enough that the finance world is sucking up the math talents…


It absolutely is, that’s the point of citing to literature that linking SES to achievement.


I’d say that it is definitely unfair that somebody with the right background can get a quick ADHD diagnosis and an inexpensive, legal, produced-to-FDA-standards supply of amphetamines, while a poor user is paying more for worse product at some risk of punitive criminal sanctions.

There may be some schedule II or schedule III compounds that we are even more hypocritical about; but it sure is hard to think of them(maybe the disparity between crack and powder cocaine; but prescription cocaine use is pretty limited and mostly confined to surgical settings, so that isn’t really comparable).

However, if we are concerned with the plight of the hypothetical low-SES student, I’d be inclined to examine the question from the opposite direction: If amphetamine use (in appropriate moderation) improves academic achievement; do we have anything on the table, either in terms of life choices for people with little education, or in terms of other academic interventions, or both, that would justify denying the poor kid some speed?

It’s not without risk; but neither is poverty or low educational attainment(those tend to get you less directly; but the population level figures are pretty grim).

I agree that they will(and already have, to some degree); but I’m just not sold on the idea that ‘doping’ will actually be a problem for e-sports (any more than baseball fans were somehow harmed by the decades of politely-ignored-and-thinly-disguised doping that preceded the current era of congressional hearings and fussing a whole lot, or football’s image has suffered because the team doctors sling painkillers so hard that the DEA is taking an interest).

Game throwing is an obvious problem: the viewers come to see high level play and the teams and sponsors pay for high level players, so having a player deliberately play badly displeases the actual supporters of the sport in the interest of some specific individual. Hacking similarly reduces the quality of play by allowing one party to unilaterally depart from the agreed rules (though it is a problem because of the agreement, not inherently. The stuff that, say, tool-assisted-speedrunners use would be utterly unacceptable in normal competition; but is accepted practice in that context).

The fact that most of the people on the LAN are probably also on ritalin, though? That is almost certainly true; but doesn’t appear to upset the proceedings(and likely improves the caliber of play). The effects of trying to stamp out performance enhancing drug use would lead to considerable drama, as they do in other sports; but there’s not much action in just ignoring it.

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You could say the same about Nvidia or Razer providing hi-po equipment to their sponsees. (Sponsorees? Spondees? Whatever.) The issue with PEDs isn’t that competitors taking them get an “unfair” advantage, it’s that they have negative effects on one’s health, and everyone is pressured into taking them to remain competitive. If anabolic steroids didn’t make you psychotic and shrink your balls into raisins they wouldn’t be prohibited in sports.


The awful unbaseballish sound they make on contact is reason enough.

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Wait, are you agreeing with me, or is that my amphetamine psychosis acting up again?

Also, I should disclose my biases proper.

If it gets you down, well then I’ll take it.
If it gets you up, well I don’t want it,
it lets you down so broken-hearted.
If it gets you down, well then I want it.

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QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE! I hope you know @funruly that I know every. single. word to “If Only”. Such a great song.


and alcohol.


There’s a difference. A 30mg time-release Adderall capsule, when taken correctly and not tampered with, will give you a pretty gradual and even upswing, and a long plateau of about 8-10 hours, ending in a gradual down-swing. That makes it much more useful as a daily therapeutic drug for treating ADD/ADHD and narcolepsy.

A 30mg instant-release amphetamine tablet has a rapid upshot, the plateau lasts maybe 4 hours, and then the bottom drops out leaving you craving more brain-juicing stimulation.

Concerta, which is time-release ritalin has an ingenious mechanism that makes it even harder to abuse. The shell of the pill is made out of ceramic with a pinhole in one end. The ceramic capsule is coated in a few milligrams of instant-release ritalin, and inside the pill is more ritalin bound to a polymer, and a sponge. As the pill moves through the digestive system, the sponge soaks up gastric fluid and slowly over time pushes ritalin out of the pill bit by bit. It’s practically tamper proof, and it would take the kind of chemistry knowledge to get the ritalin out of it and purified that would make synthesizing meth profitable.

There’s also a question of purity. There’s a vast difference in purity, potency, dose measurement and assurance, and acute toxicity between pharmaceutical grade dextro-amphetamine, and street meth.

Amphetamines shamphetamines. What a bland drug? Preventing sleep destroys the ability to dream.

Oh, believe me, if you take enough amphetamine for enough days in a row, you’ll definitely be dreaming far more intensely than anyone who’s clean. You’ll just be doing it while you’re awake and in an unpredictable and aggressive state of mind.


You’re confused. That’s called a nightmare.