Aussie Olympian James Magnussen has come the nation’s first high profile athlete to throw their support behind a controversial new event where steroid use is not only permitted, but actively encouraged.
The Herald Sun has reported that the champion swimmer has embraced the opportunity to vie for a $1.5million bounty in the Enhanced Games, an unconventional competition permitting performance-enhancing drugs.
Magnussen has committed to a specialised supplements regimen in his pursuit of breaking the world record in the 50-metre freestyle, with the potential to secure a substantial $1million prize if successful.
The challenge was initiated by Magnussen and accepted by Enhanced Games founder Aron D’Souza, who assured him of the seven-figure reward on SEN.
Australian entrepreneur D’Souza is spearheading the Enhanced Games, a controversial competition where performance-enhancing drugs are given the green light to see what the human body is capable of.
This unconventional event, positioned as a direct rival to the Olympics, embraces a no-holds-barred approach to doping to explore the outer limits of human physical capability.
Aussie Olympian James Magnussen (left) wants to take part in the Enhanced Games
At the Enhanced Games, steroid use by athletes is not only allowed, but actively encouraged
Australian entrepreneur Aron D’Souza is behind the Enhanced Games that he wants to see rival the Olympics
It has gathered momentum in 2024 with several former Olympians – now including Magnussen – pledging to take part in the inaugural games.
The Enhanced Games will also be open to anyone to register, not just Olympians, with the website saying the welcome mat was open for all athletes where they are ‘natural, adaptive, or enhanced, an amateur or a former Olympian’.
Organisers have claimed as many as 900 athletes have pledged to take part and hope to stage the first event before the Paris Olympics, although a date and venue has not been announced.
And the Enhanced Games have gathered serious momentum with PayPal founder and billionaire Peter Thiel throwing his support behind the initiative. He was revealed as an investor in the multi-million dollar seed round earlier this week.
Magnussen had a chequered swimming career in his prime.
His pinnacle came at the 2012 London Olympics, where he won a silver medal in the 100m freestyle and anchored the Australian relay team to gold.
However, he faced disappointment at the 2016 Rio Olympics, failing to qualify for the 100m freestyle final and missing out on the podium in the relay events.
‘We want to end the oppression of science in sports and let human potential reach its maximum,’ D’Souza told Decrypt in an interview.
Former Olympic gold medallist Anna Meares who serves as Australia’s Olympic chef de mission for the Paris Summer Games, told The Guardian: ‘It’s a joke, to be honest.’
‘Unfair, unsafe — I just don’t think this is the right way to go about sport,’ she said.
Travis Tygart, CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), told CNN the Enhanced Games were ‘a clown show’ and ‘not real sport’.
A UK Anti-Doping spokesperson told MailSport: ‘UKAD is extremely concerned by the concept of an enhanced games and the health risks it could pose to athletes.
‘Clean athletes work hard for their right to compete on the biggest sporting stages, knowing they have done so with integrity and by following the rules.’