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Anti-doping program needed for E-sport athletes, says WADA vice president Yang Yang

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Anti-doping program needed for E-sport athletes, says WADA vice president Yang Yang

Beijing, June 28 (Ajit Weekly News) E-sport athletes need to be placed under the protection of robust anti-doping programs, as they can be affected by doping problems as much as athletes in traditional disciplines, said World Anti-Doping Agency vice president Yang Yang.

The first Olympic E-sport Week concluded in Singapore on Sunday, and E-sports will be a medal sport for the first time at the upcoming Hangzhou Asian Games, showing the sports’ increasing influence and indicating its possible inclusion in future Olympic Games.

With E-sports growing fast in numbers of participants and competitions, WADA expressed its concern over the potential threat of doping.

“The doping problem of E-sports has not only attracted WADA’s attention, actually we have already started the conversation and discussed clean sport issues with the international E-sport federation and it knows there is a potential issue with drug taking,” Yang told Xinhua in an interview.

Yang said she had attended several E-sport events in China and talked with a number of athletes, through which she found it was necessary to set up anti-doping programs for them.

“I don’t see much difference between E-sport athletes and the commonly recognized athletes, except some people call them gamers instead of athletes,” said the former Chinese Olympic champion. “They spend as much time as traditional athletes do to train hard to reach the high level, and their competition is also very competitive.”

These athletes told Yang they sometimes spent 16-18 hours per day training, and the games they play require good physical fitness and high concentration.

“It would give us cause for concern that doping could be an issue. Actually, there is evidence that some gamers are abusing drugs. There are several concerns over the health and safety of E-sport gamers and doping is one of those concerns,” Yang added.

“The health of gamers is the priority. We are willing to use our tools and resources to support them and the IESF has shown a commitment to working with us,” Yang said.

The International E-sports Federation (IESF) signed the WADA Code, while the Global E-sports Federation has yet to ink the Code but is in charge of a series of large scale E-sport events that run in parallel with the Commonwealth, European and PanAm Games.

WADA also noted that the fact that E-sport athletes are currently exempt from doping tests is not fair to athletes bound by the Code.

“It is becoming more and more common that the E-sport events are being staged alongside traditional sport events. However, the gamers not receiving education and not being subject to testing presents an unfortunate and unfair situation where some athletes in the same event are bound by the Code and others are not,” she pointed out.

Yang said WADA is exploring ways to support relevant federations in the delivery of a robust anti-doping program to protect the athletes and ensure a clean sport, while also considering the incorporation of new rules for E-sports into the upcoming Code review process.

“We really want to encourage E-sports to be more structured and regulated in terms of the potential use of prohibited substances. It is important that it starts moving in that direction,” she noted.

–Ajit Weekly News

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