The drug friendly Enhanced Games event has received funding from leading venture capitalists ahead of its planned launch in 2025.
Enhanced Games announced the closing of its Series Seed funding round on 30 January, with the participation of leading venture capitalists including Christian Angermayer’s Apeiron Investment Group, PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel, and former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan.
The new Olympic-style sporting event came from the idea of Aron D’Souza, an Australian businessman based in London, who envisioned the concept of athletes not being subject to drug testing after noticing that a lot of people at an American gym were obviously using steroids.
Aron D’Souza, President of the Enhanced Games, commented: “The Enhanced Games is pleased to have the support of Christian, Peter, Balaji and all our other investors. They see the vision of a new model of sports that openly celebrates scientific innovation and honestly represents the use of performance enhancements in sports today.”
In one of the promotional videos, published by the organisation, an unnamed man claims that he is faster than Usain Bolt, but nobody knows who he is because he would face scrutiny due to his methods, alluding to the athlete taking performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to achieve the new world record.
The concept has been widely scrutinised, Anna Meares, Australia’s Olympic chef de mission for Paris 2024 and former Olympic gold medallist in track cycling, said: “It’s a joke, to be honest. Unfair, unsafe, I just don’t think this is the right way to go about sport.”
However, D’Souza believes that ‘excellence deserves to be rewarded’. Visitors to the organisation’s website are met by a quote that says: “Backed by the world’s top venture capitalists, the Enhanced Games is the Olympics of the future. When 44% of athletes already use performance enhancements, it is time to safely celebrate science.
As well as another message that reads: “Sports can be safer without drug testing”, indicating that the new concept is an improved take on the Olympics, on the website there are three reasons stated as to why D’Souza believes this.
Firstly, Enhanced Games plans to fairly pay all of its athletes a base wage, stating that ‘Olympians live in poverty’.
Secondly, through embracing science, the website states: “From the Tarahumara tribe to the ancient Greek Olympians, athletes have used performance enhancements to help them reach their full potential for all of recorded history.”
D’Souza believes that PEDs, when used properly, improve sports and says that drug testing agencies like WADA are oppressive.
Thirdly, the aforementioned ‘safety in science’, the organisation says that drug testing in other sports is for fairness and not safety, whereas this event would emphasise safety – while letting the athletes take PEDs.
Despite criticism from doctors, regulatory bodies and former athletes, the successful funding round shows that the games could be possible. Thiel’s funding is alleged to be a multi-million dollar figure, which combined with other investors is enough to launch the event next year.
D’Souza added: “Unlike the Olympic Games, Enhanced believes that excellence deserves to be rewarded. Support from the world’s leading venture capitalists enables us to create the structures that pay athletes fairly.”
This news comes after the Olympics announced it has partnered with Visa and Fibank to create customs debit cards, ahead of the 2024 Olympics.
“Just as the ancient Olympics were revived and renovated in 1896 for the Victorian world, the Enhanced Games is once again renovating the Olympic model for the twenty-first century. In the era of accelerating technological and scientific change, the world needs a sporting event that embraces the future, particularly advances in medical science”.