What could possibly go wrong?
The premise of an iconic Saturday Night Live skit is coming to fruition: a new version of the Olympics Games that won't test athletes for performance-enhancing drugs has scored funding from Silicon Valley titan Peter Thiel and other venture capitalists.
The Enhanced Games, which bills itself as the "Olympics of the future," announced in a splashy press release that it had raised an undisclosed amount of money in a "multi-million dollar round" from a group of investors that included Thiel and ex-Coinbase chief technology officer Balaji Srinivasan.
The project seems to be a perfect fit for Thiel's libertarian bent: be entirely "self funded" while drawing support from monied elites instead of taxpayer dollars and "highlight the inherent wastefulness of the Olympic Movement," according to its website, which cites the huge cost to host the Olympics.
In addition, Enhanced Games' website calls out the Olympics and its backers for being "anti-science," arguing that the Olympics ignores humanity's long history of using performance-enhancing substances, pointing to Roman gladiators using "stimulants and hallucinogens" as one example.
The press release makes no specific mention of doping systems like steroids or human growth hormones, but that certainly seems to be the implication. However, the press release concedes, the athletes will undergo rigorous testing for safety.
While the Olympic Games has long been overshadowed by all manner of graft and scandals, the Enhanced Games' high minded mission may open its own cans of worms.
No matter the safety protocol Enhanced Games may enact for its athletes — "electrocardiogram, blood tests and genomic sequencing," the organization claims on its website — there are still major risks with using drugs, such as heart issues, vision problems and heatstroke.
Liability may also be a major concern, for obvious reasons.
Granted, the Olympic system leaves athletes scrounging for money because they aren't paid to compete, and many athletes who participate already secretly use performance drugs. But the Enhanced Games seems like an imperfect vehicle to address these issues.
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