Two-time Olympian James Magnussen has been confirmed as the first athlete who will compete in the proposed steroid-driven Enhanced Games in a bid to earn a US$1 million ($1.54 million) prize. Magnussen retired from professional swimming in 2019 but will return to the pool to attempt to break the elusive 50m freestyle world record — with the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.
The Enhanced Games are a self-described "doping free-for-all", where athletes are not just permitted but encouraged to take performance-enhancing drugs as there is no drug testing. The competition is expected to include aquatics, track and field, gymnastics and even combat sports, all with lucrative prize pools.
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The International Olympic Committee has a zero-tolerance policy on doping and is regulated by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). It is because of this that president of the Enhanced Games, Melbourne-born, London-based businessman Aron D'Souza, believes the Enhanced Games will thrive, viewing it as the solution to sports doping.
Magnussen, dubbed "The Missile", represented Australia at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympic Games and has previously stated that he may be interested in competing at the Enhanced Games. But that possibility has now become a reality, after accepting a $1.54 million challenge to break the world record in the 50-metre freestyle at the Games
"People like James deserve to earn millions for the extraordinary feats they have accomplished and we are willing to do so," D'Souza told SEN on Friday. "I firmly believe excellence deserves to be rewarded. You are courageous and you are heroic for taking this step. You will be recognised as a hero of science," D'Souza said about Magnussen.
The official X account for the games confirmed Magnussen's participation. "We’re pleased to announce that Olympian James Magnussen has accepted the challenge to compete in the first Enhanced Games,” the post stated. "$1m prize for breaking the 50 freestyle swimming world record. More details to come."
James Magnussen confident he can beat Cesar Cielo's 50m world record
Magnussen is confident that he can not only beat his personal best time of 21.52 seconds in the 50m freestyle but break Brazillian swimmer Cesar Cielo's drug-free record of 20.91s set at the 2009 Brazilian Championships. The 32-year-old also does not believe his involvement in the new games will tarnish his sporting legacy.
"I think it actually does the opposite," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "I'll be able to show a before-and-after which should essentially show this is a natural athlete and this is an enhanced athlete and hopefully the differences will be there to see.
"There is no question over my career as an Olympic athlete. This would be a new point in time and say, 'Hey, let's test this thing out and see where human performance can go'."
The Aussie insists since retiring he has kept himself in good shape and will compete "juiced to the gills". "I have kept myself in reasonable shape in retirement," Magnussen told the Hello Sport Podcast. "They (Enhanced Games) have said they have a billion-dollar person backing them. If they put up a million dollars for the 50 freestyle world record, I will come on board as their first athlete. I'll juice to the gills and I'll break it in six months." It is not known when or where the Enhanced Games will be held but the competition has been tentatively touted for next year.
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