One of the investors, Christian Angermayer, told an online media conference at the weekend athletes are motivated by “fame and recognition” otherwise they would run alone in the backyard.
“Think about it like Hollywood,” D’Souza told me in a later interview. “Hollywood has the same incentive structure as professional sport. There’s fame, there’s money, there’s glory. It’s ultra-competitive. You don’t see actors dying from taking too much performance enhancements. You don’t see actresses dying from taking too much Botox. Ultimately, they are under safe, clinical supervision.”
What are these people talking about? Seriously?
Professional sport is not Hollywood and athletes are not actors, even if they attain the same benefits when they reach the peak of their respective crafts.
When most athletes start their journey, they aren’t competing for fame, glory nor money. They do it for fun. Others do it to escape problems at home. Others do it to fit in. Then they all do it for their school, region, state and country. They do it for a medal, to reach a final, for a personal best.
Few do it exclusively for fame and money, and to argue otherwise – let alone base your entire hopped-up Olympics around it – suggests you have no understanding about what motivates most athletes, particularly Olympians.
They also don’t seem to understand what people want to watch: doped athletes competing for themselves for money or clean athletes competing for their country? I know what I’m more interested in.
Maybe James Magnussen can point all this out when he becomes the Enhanced Games’ first human guinea pig. What would he have wanted when he was in his prime: gold in the 100-metre freestyle, which he missed by one-hundredth of a second in London in 2012, or a million bucks?
Within a matter of days last week, Magnussen went from half-joking on the Hello Sport podcast that he’d “juice to the gills” for the $US1 million ($1.5 million) on offer from D’Souza to break the 50-metre freestyle world record to becoming the Enhanced Games’ poster boy.
Since retiring from swimming five years ago, he has been an intelligent and articulate voice in the media. He can put whatever he wants into his body, in return for as much money as he can get. He knows what he’s doing.
“I’m so proud to have a hometown hero come headline the Games,” D’Souza oozed.
The key selling points of the Enhanced Games seem to be they’re not the Olympics, nor compliant to the World Anti-Doping Agency code, meaning athletes can take whatever FDA-approved drugs they want under clinical supervision.
“The success of the movement is that science has a place within sport and that it can make sport faster and safer and, by extension, all of humanity [better],” D’Souza said, ignoring that science already plays a significant role in sport.
During his media blitz, D’Souza has highlighted the unfair distribution of IOC funding to athletes; the financial burden for cities that host the Olympics; and the heavy-handed tactics of WADA, which he compares to that of the East German Stasi.
Any discerning follower of sport has long been aware of these issues. The media has not ignored them. The late investigative reporter Andrew Jennings spent a lifetime exposing IOC corruption, as have others. Last year, this masthead’s Chip Le Grand exposed the nightmarish reality faced by clean athletes Peter Bol, Shayna Jack, Brenton Rickard and others who have been caught in the crossfire of a flawed WADA code.
In other words, Mr D’Souza, we get it. We’re not the smartest people in the room, but we get it.
What many of us won’t accept is your solution: allowing athletes to turbocharge their performances via doping, controlled or otherwise; that hard work, discipline, teamwork and coaching are secondary to the best drugs money can buy.
D’Souza keeps spitting out the line “my body, my choice” for athletes and, with that in mind, I had two specific questions for him: what if an athlete wants greater dosages than what is being recommended by the Enhanced Games’ medical experts? And what if that athlete goes off reservation, injecting themselves with enough human growth hormone and testosterone to kill an elephant?
“Obviously, we would never encourage that,” he said. “We have a safety system in place in which world-leading clinicians are developing a full-system health check-up protocol. You have to be within certain biomarker ranges to compete. If you have an enlarged heart, you won’t be able to compete.”
Some athletes are so desperate to win a gold medal, they’ll “juice to the gills” if they can get away with it. With millions of dollars on the line, what’s stopping them doing something similar at the Enhanced Games?
“We would ban an athlete if not within healthy parameters,” D’Souza said. “Let’s be honest: there’s an economic motivation for James to be involved in this and for me to be involved in this. To have an athlete die on international TV would be the worst thing for ratings. It would be terrible … But, if we do this right, it will fundamentally change humanity.”
Making a fortune while telling yourself you’re making the world a better place. Now that does sound like Hollywood.
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