Enhanced Games boss slams Olympic 'smear campaign'

By Steve Larkin
Updated March 20 2024 - 11:05am, first published 11:03am
Enhanced Games chief Aron D'Souza has hit out at what he calls an Olympics smear campaign. (HANDOUT/SUPPLIED)
Enhanced Games chief Aron D'Souza has hit out at what he calls an Olympics smear campaign. (HANDOUT/SUPPLIED)

Kieren Perkins has joined a malicious Olympic apparatus smear campaign by slamming a sports event for drug-taking athletes, the Australian president of the Enhanced Games says.

Aron D'Souza, the Melbourne-born entrepreneur behind the Enhanced Games, says Perkins' fiery criticism of the sports event is predictable.

"People like Kieren Perkins are deeply afraid about a change in the system when he's earning as much money as the prime minister, 20 times as much as the average Olympian," D'Souza told AAP on Wednesday.

"They are threatened and that's why they resort to using such outrageous inflammatory language.

"It's because they don't have a scientific, moral, legal or ethical leg to stand on and they're afraid to be subject to the marketplace of ideas.

"And so these overpaid Olympic bureaucrats who are riding a gravy train of athlete exploitation are unwilling to actually enter a proper debate."

Perkins, an Olympic swimming legend now the chief executive of the Australian Sports Commission, warned an athlete will die if Enhanced Games go ahead.

"Performance-enhancing drugs have always been utilised and designed in a way to try to get an advantage that the human body is not built for, and it always leads to disaster," Perkins told AAP on Tuesday.

"The idea that you can just manage it in a vacuum is really quite silly."

But D'Souza said Perkins' stance was flawed, citing research commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), published in 2018, showing 44 per cent of elite athletes had used banned performance enhancements.

"And one per cent get caught by the current drug testing regimes, so we all know that it's a farce," D'Souza said.

"Ultimately by bringing it out in to the open, athletes will have the ability to be honest and to have full, high-quality clinical supervision.

"The smear campaign run by people like Kieren Perkins and (Australian Olympic powerbroker) John Coates is to suggest that the Enhanced Games is just a free-for-all, which is just completely not true.

"Our objective is always with the athletes interests at heart economically, clinically.

"And ultimately the Olympic committees, the Australian Olympic Committee in particular, has to use this inflammatory language to create clickbait headlines so they can smear our message because they don't want to enter a real debate."

D'Souza has challenged Perkins, Coates and other critics, including International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach and International Association of Athletics Federations president Sebastian Coe, to public debates.

"It's the most important debate in the history of sports and let's resolve it," he said.

Retired Australian swimmer James Magnussen is the first athlete in the world to publicly commit to competing at the Enhanced Games, and hundreds of other athletes have privately expressed interest.

"We have so many athletes who have registered their interest with us who are going to compete at the Paris Olympics," D'Souza said.

D'Souza will next week detail financial incentives for athletes and the qualification process for the inaugural Enhanced Games, which has the backing of two billionaires among others.

He will also announce a media partnership deal for the Games, slated for the middle of next year and to include swimming and diving, athletics, weightlifting, gymnastics and combat sports.

Australian Associated Press