PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel and former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan have invested in the ‘drug friendly’ Enhanced Games.
The Olympic game alternative announced the closing of its Series Seed funding round on 30 January, with the participation of leading venture capitalists that included Christian Angermayer’s Apeiron Investment Group, alongside Thiel and Srinvisan.
The new Olympic-style sporting event is born 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.”
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”.
Despite criticism from doctors, regulatory bodies and former athletes, the successful funding round indicates the games could possibly launch in the near future. 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 2024Olympics.
“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”.