Sports on steroids? Peter Thiel invests in ‘Enhanced Games’ rivals to ‘doping-friendly’ Olympics

Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, has made a significant investment in a sports competition that openly embraces the use of performance-enhancing drugs. This move sparked widespread debate about the potential risks to athletes’ health and the integrity of the sport.

What happened: Thiel recently revealed his involvement in a “multi-million dollar” seed round for Enhanced Games. This privately financed sporting event calls itself the “Olympics of the future,” as Forbes reported on Friday. The games will not conduct drug testing, citing their embrace of science in sports and their commitment to being “the safest international sporting event in history.”

Thiel is joined by other high-profile investors, including Balaji Srinivasana cryptocurrency investor e Christian Angermayer, a biotech investor. The games will focus on individual sports, with events in five main categories: athletics, aquatics, combat, gymnastics and strength.

The Enhanced Games also aims to become the most inclusive sports league in history, welcoming all adults to compete, regardless of their natural, adaptive or enhanced status. Registration for the games will open in late 2024, with exact dates yet to be announced.

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Because matter: The Enhanced Games position on doping directly contradicts the position of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). In August, the WADA commission concluded that the use of marijuana by athletes violates the “spirit of sport” and decided to keep it on the list of banned substances. This decision was made after reviewing the evidence on marijuana use by athletes.

Thiel’s investment in the Enhanced Games also follows a series of controversial doping incidents in international sports. In February 2022, American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was banned from the Olympics after testing positive for cannabis while a Russian figure skater Kamil Valiev he was allowed to compete despite a similar offense. This has sparked a debate about double standards and racism in doping sanctions.

Valieva was subsequently banned in January 2024 from competing internationally for four years for anti-doping violations at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

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Photo by Mark Reinstein on Shutterstock

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