Doping-‘Someone will die’: Australia’s Perkins warns of Enhanced Games safety concerns

By Thomson Reuters Mar 19, 2024 | 4:10 AM

(Reuters) – Australian Sports Commission boss Kieren Perkins said on Tuesday that athletes’ lives could be in danger if the Enhanced Games is allowed to go ahead.

The Enhanced Games will allow athletes to use pharmacological or technological assistance, including substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Retired world champion swimmer James Magnussen last month agreed to take performance-enhancing drugs to make an attempt at beating Cesar Cielo’s 15-year-old 50m freestyle world record.

The Enhanced Games concept has been met with widespread criticism, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), WADA and World Athletics having denounced the proposed competition.

“The idea of an Enhanced Games is laughable,” Perkins said at the SportNXT conference on Tuesday.

“Someone will die if we allow that sort of environment to continue to prosper and flourish.

“We don’t want people to be taking performance-enhancing drugs because of the significant impact it has on them and their future and their future families.”

In a statement last week, Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the Biden administration had “deep concerns” about the Enhancement Games.

Enhanced Games President Aron D’Souza said the competition would focus on health testing instead of drug testing.

“We’re health testing to make sure our athletes are healthy and safe to compete. I don’t want an athlete to be injured or die in competition,” D’Souza told reporters on Tuesday.

“How are we going to do this? By doing full system health checkups on all of our athletes. Blood work, echocardiograms, maybe even MRIs. New advances in technology are also very useful and enable continuous real time health screening.”

D’Souza added that the existence of the Enhanced Games could make the Olympics fairer by giving athletes an avenue to take performance-enhancing drugs in an open environment.

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)