American billionaire and technological innovator Peter Thiel has decided to financially support the project of an alternative Olympic Games in which athletes will not be limited by anti-doping rules. The upcoming “Enhanced Games”, as their organizers called the upcoming event, will, on the other hand, actively support athletes in the use of performance-enhancing products.
The purpose of the project, originally conceived by Australian entrepreneur Aron D’Souza, is to support research into food supplements and so-called biohacks, that is, means and techniques aimed at improving human abilities, health and delaying aging. Through the games, D’Souza plans to collect a massive amount of data on people who are “pursuing self-improvement through science,” and says the data will be “very useful for discovering compounds and therapies that can extend human life.” D’Souza, a graduate the lawyer, who has also represented Peter Thiel in the past, told The New York Post that he has already raised “higher units of millions of dollars” for his games.
D’Souza did not disclose how much funding Thiel himself gave him. Thiel, who made his fortune through early investments in technology startups such as Facebook and PayPal, has long supported projects that aim to artificially push the limits of the human body. For example, he himself uses growth hormones to maintain muscle mass and has previously stated that he wants to have his body frozen after death so that he can be revived if future advanced technology allows.
D’Souza said the games will feature five different sports – athletics, swimming, weightlifting, gymnastics and martial arts. For him, the basic idea of the Enhanced Games is to allow athletes to use any substance “openly and honestly”, unlike the Olympics, where he says almost half of the participants use banned substances, while only 1 percent of them are caught.
The organizers plan to hold the competitions in various cities and in already built sports grounds, and their holding should not be subsidized from public budgets in any way – unlike the classic Olympics. At the same time, the games should be held annually, and their participants should receive a regular base salary in addition to bonuses for results. So far, according to D’Souza, 900 athletes have expressed interest in participating.
Unsurprisingly, a wave of negative reactions arose against the competition, which itself encourages its participants to dope. The Enhanced Games have been criticized by representatives of several National Olympic Committees, former and current athletes and anti-doping agencies. Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of the Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA, who revealed to the world the Russian state-organized doping program prepared for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, commented on Thiel and D’Souza’s games. According to him, the Enhanced Games represent “a gamble with health and a danger to the sport.”