Record-breaking Olympian Leisel Jones has weighed into the debate over the mooted Enhanced Games steroid-taking competition.
A concept that was first announced in June 2023, the proposed games were founded by Australian Aron D’Souza and will actively encourage athletes to take performance enhancing drugs.
Stream Over 50 Sports Live & On-Demand with Kayo. New to Kayo? Start Your Free Trial Today >
Retired Australian swimmer James Magnussen made headlines around the world on Friday after declaring he would compete for a $1.5 million prize if he is able to break the 50m world record on steroids.
The current mark, 20.91 seconds set back in 2009, will still stand of course as any Enhanced Games attempt won’t be recognised by governing bodies or the International Olympic Committee.
But D’Souza says he is keen to see what feats humans can achieve if science, rather than ethics, talent and discipline, is the key ingredient.
Breaststroke legend Jones was the first Australian swimmer to compete in four Olympics, winning three golds among eight medals at those Games, spanning Sydney 2000 through London 2012.
The Enhanced Games have the backing of a number of billionaires, including PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, and are currently slated for December 2024 or some time in 2025, with more details to come in April this year.
Like countless sports fans, Jones concedes she is intrigued by the thought of humans testing their limits with no rules.
But the 38-year-old has a key caveat when considering what she says will be known as the “Steroid Olympics”.
“I’m in two camps,” Jones said on Triple M’s The Rush Hour with Leisel Jones, Liam & Dobbo. “I’ve always said this would be a wonderful idea just to see how fast people can go.
“I don’t mind it. I don’t want to participate in it myself, I’m not in a position to do that. The risks are too big for me I think for the side effects and what not.
“But I am so happy to see other people do this. I would watch it for sure. I just want to know how fast they can go.
“If people are willing to put their bodies on the line to do this, I’m not willing to, but I’m happy to see what people can do if they’re willing to do that. But it’s not for me.”
While Jones wouldn’t compete, she admitted she would have a conversation about potentially commentating at the proposed games.
Jones, who retired back in 2012, also said they could help make genuine sport, which often carries stigmas or assumptions of drug-taking, cleaner.
“If this clears out people who genuinely want to (take performance enhancing drugs) and are doing illegal things in sport, if that clears them out of clean sport, that would be wonderful,” she said.
“Go knock yourself out, I think that’s great.
“If you want to challenge yourself, I say go for it. But this will hopefully keep clean sport, clean.”
Magnussen, 32, has kept himself in shape and seems to genuinely believe he can find the half-a-second he needs to lower his personal best of 21.52 set more than a decade ago and break that 50 mark.
Jones, however, has her doubts.
“He is already very shredded, he’s already extremely muscular and lean,” she said.
“He doesn’t really need to put on too much size so I don’t know that the steroids are going to be that helpful, because you want to float as much as possible, muscle is very heavy and doesn’t float very well.
“They’re beneficial for women because they can build their testosterone and be bigger and leaner.”
Magnussen also said he would need to use a banned hi-tech swim suit for his attempt.
On Friday, the former 100m freestyle world champion expressed his confidence in the pursuit to the Hello Sport podcast.
“They’ve said they’ve got 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,” he said.
“I’ll juice to the gills and I’ll break it within six months.
“I’m going to need one of those super suits to float me, because if I get unbelievably jacked, then I’ll sink.”
Later on Friday, the Enhanced Games’ official X profile announced Magnussen as its first confirmed participant.