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eDoping

eDoping – a term derived from merging “electronic” and “doping,” encompasses the illicit practices utilized to gain an undeserved advantage in esports competitions. This includes any attempt to artificially enhance a player’s performance beyond their natural abilities and training. Historically, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) defined doping as “the occurrence of one or more anti-doping rule violations.” These violations primarily encompass the use of performance-enhancing drugs and methods aimed at manipulating the athlete’s physical capabilities, such as anabolic steroids, blood manipulation, and masking agents. However, eDoping transcends this definition, venturing beyond the physical realm and into the digital world of esports. It involves the unauthorized use of technological tools to gain a competitive edge, creating an uneven playing field for fair competition.

Methods of eDoping

While the specific methods of eDoping may differ from traditional sports and across different esports titles, the underlying principle remains consistent: achieving an advantage through external means that creates an uneven playing field, which disrupts fair play. This can involve:

  • Exploiting game algorithms: Gaining unauthorized access to game data or manipulating algorithms for personal benefit.
  • Using cheat software: Employing unauthorized software applications that grant unfair advantages, such as aimbots, wallhacks, or automated gameplay features.
  • Hardware modifications: Utilizing modified hardware components that provide unintended benefits, such as customized controllers with rapid-fire functionality.

It’s crucial to distinguish eDoping from regular use of technology in esports. Legitimate training tools, performance analysis software, and even certain hardware upgrades are not inherently considered eDoping if their purpose remains within the framework of fair play. The key factor lies in the intent and impact of the technology. Any tool that strengthens an athlete undeservedly, resulting in a dissimilar starting position between players, and subsequently undermining the principles of fair competition, falls under the umbrella of eDoping.

Real-world example

The 2018 eXTREMESLAND Asia Finals incident involving CSGO player Nikhil “forsaken” Kumawat serves as a prime example of eDoping. Kumawat used a hidden application to gain an unfair advantage, ultimately leading to his expulsion from his team and disqualification from the tournament.[1] This incident highlights the potential dangers of using unauthorized software and emphasizes the need for robust measures to combat eDoping practices.

Challenges in addressing eDoping

Combating eDoping effectively presents several significant challenges:

  • Detection: Unlike traditional doping, where physical substances can be identified through testing, eDoping often occurs within the digital realm, making detection significantly more complex. Sophisticated software and hardware modifications can be challenging to identify, requiring specialized expertise and ever-evolving detection methods.
  • Collection of Evidence: Gathering concrete evidence to prove eDoping violations can be intricate. The digital nature of the offense makes it difficult to establish a clear link between the player’s actions and the specific advantage gained, especially in the era of online competition. Furthermore, the international landscape of esports, with teams and players operating across borders, presents additional hurdles in gathering and sharing evidence effectively.
  • Lack of Awareness: The relatively new and evolving nature of eDoping means that awareness about its prevalence, methods, and potential consequences remains limited among some players, organizations, and even the broader gaming community. This lack of awareness can hinder efforts to prevent, detect, and address eDoping effectively.

[1] Nichola Daunton, ‘One map away from winning: How one player rocked Indian esports’ Euronews (9 July 2022) https://www.euronews.com/next/2022/07/09/one-map-away-from-winning-how-one-player-rocked-indian-esports accessed 26 January 2024

Author

  • Yudistira Adipratama

    Yudistira Adipratama is the Managing Partner of K-CASE Lawyer, the first esports dedicated law firm in Indonesia. K-CASE Lawyer has worked with and provided legal consultation to various esports stakeholders in Indonesia, including game publishers, esports clubs, event organizers, streamers, game associations, government, and universities. Yudistira holds a key position in the policy-making process of the esports parent organization in Indonesia. He was involved in the drafting of Law No. 11 of 2022 on Sports, which recognizes esports as a competitive sport for the first time in Indonesian history. Yudistira is also the drafter of PBESI Regulation No. 034/PB-ESI/B/VI/2021 on the Implementation of Esports Activities in Indonesia, a policy that regulates the implementation of the esports industry ecosystem in Indonesia. His expertise in law and the esports industry also led him to be involved in the drafting of Presidential Regulation No. 19 of 2024 on the Acceleration of the Development of the National Game Industry. In addition to esports, Yudistira also has a deep understanding of sports law and actively serves as a speaker representing Indonesia at various high-level international conferences attended by representatives of the International Olympic Committee. Under his leadership, K-CASE Lawyer has supported Indonesia’s participation in various international multi-sports events, such as the 19th Asian Games in 2022, the 2023 SEA Games, and the 14th IESF World Esports Championships.

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