"Why not solve the future problem of gene doping and the current problem of steroid use in professional sports by creating two kinds of sports leagues?" I asked way back in 2005. "One would be free of genetic and pharmacologic enhancements—call them the Natural Leagues. The other would allow players to use gene fixes and other enhancements—call them the Enhanced Leagues."
Welcome, finally, to the Enhanced Games! The basic idea: sports without drug testing.
"We believe that science is real and has an important place in supporting human flourishing. There is no better way to highlight the centrality of science in our modern world than in elite sports," said Aron D'Souza, the president of the Enhanced Games. Planned for 2024, the Enhanced Games aims to be the first international sports event that fully supports performance enhancements. Consequently, the Enhanced Games will not adhere to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules with respect to track and field, swimming, weightlifting, gymnastics, and combat sports competitions. As the event plan states, "Athletes will not be tested for performance enhancements, and are under no obligation to declare their enhanced status in order to compete."
D'Souza, an Australian entrepreneur and Oxford-educated lawyer, among other things, led tech investor Peter Thiel's successful invasion-of-privacy litigation against Gawker Media. The Enhanced Games Athletes Advisory Commission consists of elite athletes including Cayman Islands Olympic swimmer Brett Fraser, Canadian Olympic bobsleigher Christina Smith, and South African Olympic swimmer Roland Schoeman. The Scientific and Ethical Advisory Commission includes Harvard biomedical researcher George Church and biotech entrepreneur Julia Cooney.
Proponents of the Enhanced Games say that they embrace liberty, arguing that "adults, with free and informed consent, have full autonomy over their bodies and minds." In addition, they reject the current model of "not-for-profit" international sports competition as "corrupt." Funded privately, the Enhanced Games will cost taxpayers nothing and will use already-built sporting facilities. Proponents point out that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) generates billions in revenue while many of the world's best athletes, under the IOC's rules, are barely able to eke out their livings. "We embrace capitalism as central to everything we do and strive to be maximally efficient in our operations," declares its value statement. "Excellence, particularly athletic excellence, deserves to be rewarded."
As an inclusive competition, the Enhanced Games will be open to both natural and enhanced athletes. "We want natural and we welcome enhanced athletes," D'Souza told the Associated Press. "And I hope that the bold, natural athlete shows up to the games and says, 'Hey guys I'm natural, I'm still WADA compliant and I'm going to beat all you guys'—that is going to be great television." It would be, indeed.
As I wrote back in 2005, "Let fans decide which play they prefer."