Sebastian Coe: Long ban for anyone participating in 'Enhanced Games'. WORLD ATHLETICS

The concept of the 'Enhanced Games', an Olympic-style event where doping would be allowed, has been rejected by the president of world athletics. Coe described the organisation of such events as "nonsense". WADA, for its part, said it was a "dangerous and irresponsible concept".

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has been outspoken in his criticism of the organisation of the Enhanced Games, the 2023 event created by Australian businessman Aron D'Souza that would allow doping and, according to its founder, aim to increase athletes' income in non-Olympic years. 

Coe was speaking at a press conference ahead of this weekend's World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow. The president was very categorical. "Well, isn't that nonsense?" he said. "I really can't get excited about it. 

"There is only one message. If anyone is stupid enough to want to take part in this, and they come from the traditional and philosophical end of our sport, they will be banned and they will be banned for a long time," AFP reported. 

The 'Enhanced Games' will include athletics, swimming, weightlifting, gymnastics and martial arts, although no date or venue has yet been set for the event. None of these sports will be subject to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which has described the experiment as a "dangerous and irresponsible concept".

Sebastian Coe has branded the 'Enhanced Games'
Sebastian Coe has branded the 'Enhanced Games' "nonsense". GETTY IMAGES

The two-time Olympic 1,500m gold medallist (Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984) added: "I'm sure crazy things happen in other areas, we get them from time to time. I'm not losing any sleep over it. It's not going to be an interesting topic. Is it?"

For his part, Enhanced Games founder D'Souza told the BBC: "Athletes have contacted us because they want to earn real money" in non-Olympic years. "Excellence deserves to be rewarded. It is unfortunate that our Olympians earn so little," he said. He criticised what he called a "corrupt International Olympic Committee whose members live in opulence".

D'Souza announced that there are athletes who are "very excited to be part of the Enhanced Games to earn real money and have the opportunity to increase their fame, monetize and practice their sport in the three years when the Olympics don't take place.

The founder of the Extended Games, for which no date has yet been set, assured the BBC, according to AFP, that everything would be done under security measures and "under clinical supervision". Some 900 athletes have expressed interest in the 'Enhanced Games', D'Souza said. 

The prize money includes a minimum of $1 million (£788,000) on the table for "the first athlete to publicly break Usain Bolt's (100m) world record". The first big name to be announced is Australian swimmer James Magnussen, who won gold, silver and bronze medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and is a two-time 100m freestyle world champion. Magnussen has vowed to come out of retirement and "push myself to the limit".

D'Souza: "Enhanced Games are inevitable"

As soon as Sebastian Coe's comments were made public, Aron D'Souza responded. The founder and president of the Enhanced Games was referring to all those who have opposed the concept of competition that he wants to create: "They have denigrated our plans with colourful descriptions such as 'nonsense', 'crap' and even the belief that we are 'a joke'."

He pointed out: "Many leaders of the Olympic movement, some of whom I'm sure Lord Coe would consider part of his team, seem to be enthusiastic and have engaged with us.

"I should also stress that the Enhanced Games will allow both natural and enhanced athletes to compete side by side without anyone having to be enhanced. We've been clear about this from the outset and I can assure Lord Coe that there will be nothing 'stupid' about our athletes," he added, echoing Coe's own words.

D'Souza noted that just this week the 'Enhanced Games' organised the Inaugural Conference on Human Enhancement at the House of Lords in London, which he referred to to ensure that 'the government and scientific leaders present know that the future of sports science isn't nonsense' as Lord Coe suggested.

He respects Coe's idea and thought, which is none other than the thought of the Olympic movement, but he qualifies it as more or less ancient. "Lord Coe represents the analogue era of sport, which valued the purity of the game. We understand and respect for that. But the Enhanced Games represent something new: the union of sport and science. He may call it nonsense, but insults won't stop progress. The Enhanced Games are inevitable, D'Souza concluded.