‘It’s a joke’: Enhanced Games swimmer should face life ban, says aquatics chief

The Australian world champion swimmer James Magnussen should be banned from sport for life if he deliberately dopes in an attempt to win $1m by trying to break a world record, the World Aquatics chief executive, Brent Nowicki, has said.

The 6ft 7in Magnussen, who won three world titles as well as a 100m freestyle silver at the London 2012 Olympics, has promised to “juice to the gills” when he comes out of retirement for the Enhanced Games next year – and reckons he can break the 50m freestyle world record in six months.

However, Nowicki was quick to shoot down the plans of the 33-year-old, who is known as “The Missile”. “I think it’s a farce,” he said. “I think it’s a joke. If you want my honest opinion, if you are going to partake in that activity, you shouldn’t be involved in any sport ever again. You cross that bridge, you don’t come back.”

Organisers of the Enhanced Games, which has been backed by venture capitalists including the billionaire Peter Thiel, have called their event “the Olympics of the future”. They argue that drug use in sport should be called a “demonstration of science” and say their event will include athletics, swimming, weightlifting, gymnastics and combat sports.

Nowicki, though, believes that the Enhanced Games’s scientific claims are dangerous and wrong. “I think it is extremely shortsighted to tell me that one of the priority reasons behind this is science,” he said. “That is like telling me that science vessels are going out into the oceans killing whales for science purposes. You can find a lot of smoke and mirrors in this world. This is one of them.

“It takes us back years. It cuts against what we are trying to do,” he added. “It’s going to potentially give reason to somebody who’s considering doping – who can say, ‘look it’s safe now, James did it.’ Or hey, maybe there is a way to do this with this new technology.”