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Computer game tournaments already have some of the trappings of real professional sports, such as big money prizes and huge cheering crowds. But so-called e-sports also have one of sport's darker sides, with competitors using illicit drugs to artificially improve their performances. Now a top e-sports league has announced that it will begin randomly drug-testing players, reports Sky News.
The Electronic Sports League (ESL) made the announcement in the wake of a scandal involving professional Counter-Strike player Cory Friesen. He told an interviewer that his team had all taken psycho-stimulant Adderall, a drug typically used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Mr Friesen claimed the team used the drug to improve their performance during a recent tournament in Poland.
The Cologne-based ESL says players' past drug use will not be investigated, but random drug testing will be introduced imminently. It says the tests will take seconds to complete and will not delay matches. The new system is likely to be in place for a major Counter-Strike tournament in Germany next month.
The line between professional sports and gaming is growing smaller by the day. The largest prize pool in the world - for The International tournament - stands at around $10m (£6.5m). E-sports stars are even forced to retire through injury, with top player Hai Lam recently announcing his retirement as a result of repetitive strain injury.
Last year Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania began offering scholarships for e-sports athletes.