James Magnussen swim doping plan ridiculed by world sport

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Olympic silver medallist James Magnussen has quickly become the poster boy for the proposed Enhanced Games doping competition and it’s not doing much for his reputation.

Magnussen, 33, was one of world swimming’s top freestylers at the height of his career and has three world championship gold medals and three Olympic medals among his collection.

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The man known as “The Missile” also had his fair share of controversy, including a notorious Stilnox bonding episode and allegations of harassment at the 2012 London Games.

Controversy surrounding the New South Welshman went to a whole new level in February this year when Magnussen became the first recognised athlete to publicly declare his intention to compete in the Enhanced Games, a competition that actively encourages doping.

To date he is still the only athlete to make such a declaration and it was met with derision at a sports summit in Birmingham this week, as The Australian reported.

“My honest opinion, if you are going to partake in that activity, you shouldn’t be involved in any sport ever again,” World Aquatics chief Brent Nowicki said.

“Once you have crossed that bridge, there is no coming back.”

Another sports official commented: “Who will line up in the pool to race Magnussen? You can’t have a race of one.”

Due to be staged in 2025, the Enhanced Games are reportedly expecting more athletes to come forward after this year’s Paris Olympics.

In the meantime Magnussen, who is chasing a $US1 million ($1.53m) prize if he can break the 50 metre freestyle world record at a competition dubbed the “Steroid Games”, has become the maligned competition’s key spokesman.

“G’day mate, James Magnussen here and I’ve got some pretty exciting news to share with you,” Magnussen says in a fairly cringey pitch on Enhanced Games social channels you can see in the video player above.

“The Enhanced Games isn’t just another sporting event folks, it’s a revolution.

“A chance for athletes like you and me to push our limits, break barriers and rewrite the history books.

“The Enhanced Games are looking for athletes who aren’t afraid to push the envelope and redefine what it means to be a competitor.”

The concept has some high-profile and extremely wealthy backing, with legendary director Ridley Scott and US TV star Rob McElhenney producing a documentary on the Games.

Australian businessman Aron D’Souza and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel are also key backers of the project.

They are seeking 10 athletes, who will be paid $150,000 each, to take part.

“I’ve been around the block,” Magnussen continued in the post, which labelled him an “Olympic swimming hero”.

“I’ve competed on the biggest stages and represented my country at the Olympics.

“I’ve tasted both victory and defeat, but this, this is different. I need more of my fellow athletes to take part in the documentary that will tell our story as we train for and compete in the Enhanced Games.

“So, what are you waiting for? Dust off your running shoes, grab your gear, record your application and post it on your socials.

“Join me on this incredible journey. Together, we’ll show the world what it means to be an athlete, a true champion.”

The pitch received a fairly predictable response on social media.

“The word “hero” doing a lot of work here,” was one response on X, formerly Twitter.

“Can I “enhance” my performance by adding a few more limbs?” asked another.

“Has Magnussen saved a life recently? Or is he just suffering from relevance deprivation syndrome?” asked a third.

“What a disgraceful cheat,” another said bluntly.

Magnussen’s personal best in the 50m freestyle is 21.52, set back in 2013, while the world record is 20.91, set by Brazilian Cesar Cielo in 2009.

“They’ve said they’ve got a billion-dollar person backing them,” Magnussen said in February.

“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 within six months.”

Nowicki expressed his deep concern over the project.

“It’s going to give or potentially give reason to somebody who’s considering doping, who can say look it’s safe now, James did it,” he said.

“Or hey, maybe there is a way to do this with this new technology.

“Look, they have their personal reasons, and he’s entitled to his opinion and why he does things.

“I think it is extremely shortsighted to tell me that one of the priority reasons behind this is science and proving the effects of this.”

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