Australia’s anti-doping chief issues grave warning over ‘grossly irresponsible’ Enhanced Games
Australian sport’s anti-doping chief has slammed an Olympic-style event with no drug testing as “grossly irresponsible” while warning of severe ramifications for athletes taking part.
Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) chief executive David Sharpe is accusing Enhanced Games organisers of putting profit before health.
Sharpe has delivered a broad warning to Australian athletes that they risk being frozen out of organised sport if they participate in the Enhanced Games.
“The use of performance-enhancing substances poses an unacceptable health risk to athletes,” Sharpe said on Saturday.
“And SIA considers the promotion of the use of such substances through the Enhanced Games to be grossly irresponsible.”
Australia’s dual world champion swimmer and triple Olympic medallist James Magnussen is the first athlete in the world to publicly pledge to compete at the Enhanced Games.
The multi-sport event with no drug testing, founded by Australian entrepreneur Aron D’Souza, has promised $1.54 million to Magnussen or any other swimmer who can be the first to break the world 50 metres freestyle record at next year’s inaugural Enhanced Games.
Sharpe, while not directly mentioning Magnussen, warned Australian athletes of harsh consequences if they competed.
“Australian athletes have historically demonstrated high levels of integrity and this undermines decades of commitment from Australian athletes and their sports to clean and fair sport,” he said.
“Athletes participating in the Enhanced Games may find themselves unable to participate in recognised sporting events in any capacity, including as a coach or administrator and not just as an athlete.”
Sharpe also warned Australian athletes who associated in a sport-related context with anyone who used performance-enhancing drugs were breaking the world anti-doping code.
“It is critically important that we all ensure the health and wellbeing of athletes is not jeopardised,” he said.
The organisation Sharpe leads is an Australian government executive agency that brings together operations of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the National Integrity of Sport unit.
“Profit should not be prioritised over health,” he said.
“We want our young athletes, no matter their race, gender, socio-economic or other backgrounds to know that by working hard and getting the most out of their talent in a healthy way they can be the future Australian athletes at a home Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“We don’t want our young athletes to be taking shortcuts through the use of performance-enhancing substances.”
D’Souza, founder and president of Enhanced Games, said he expected dozens of Australian athletes to follow Magnussen’s “heroic, courageous first step”.
“I have no doubt now that James has done this publicly there will be dozens, hundreds of athletes,” D’Souza said.
D’Souza has also promised $US1 million ($1.54m) to the first sprinter to better Usain Bolt’s 100m global benchmark on the track.
Breaking any world record at the Enhanced Games would not be officially ratified given the event will not have drug testing.
Melbourne-born, London-based D’Souza has two billionaires — Peter Thiel and Christian Angermayer — and multi-millionaire Balaji Srinivasan as financial backers.
Swimming and diving are among the disciplines on the Enhanced Games schedule, along with track and field athletics, weightlifting, gymnastics, and combat sports.
D’Souza is in negotiations with global television networks and streaming outlets, while venues around the world are pitching to host the games.
Up to seven qualifying events will be staged this December around the world, including Australia, with the inaugural Enhanced Games slated for the middle of next year.