A former Australian Olympian is coming out of retirement in an attempt to swim faster than he ever has—while openly on drugs. James Magnussen, 32, aims to beat the world record in the men's 50-meter freestyle, though his time won't be logged in any record book due to his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Magnussen reportedly plans to compete in the inaugural Enhanced Games, an international sports competition dubbed by News.com.au as the "steroid games," where athletes will not be subject to drug testing. For $1 million, "I'll juice to the gills and I'll break [the record] in six months," Magnussen told Sydney's SEN radio on Friday, per the Australian Associated Press.
The event—to include swimming, weightlifting, gymnastics, and other sports—was announced in June and initially conceived for this December. But no time or location has been announced amid backlash, per the BBC. The UK Anti-Doping Agency has said the premise "is unsafe, dangerous to athletes' health and wellbeing, and flies in the face of fair play." Travis Tygart, CEO of US Anti-Doping Agency, said it was "a dangerous clown show, not real sport" and "likely illegal in many [US] states," per CNN. Magnussen is the first athlete to publicly express interest in competing, per the AAP. But "I have no doubt now that James has done this publicly there will be dozens, hundreds of athletes [ready to sign up]," founder Aron D'Souza, an Australian businessman, tells the outlet. "My phone is blowing up."
Magnussen held the men's 100-meter freestyle world title in 2011 and 2013. He has a personal best time of 21.52 seconds in the men's 50-meter freestyle dating back to 2013. He'll be looking to beat a record time of 20.91 seconds set in 2009 by Brazilian Cesar Cielo, who was wearing a performance-enhancing swimsuit that was banned from international competition only weeks later. "I want to go to America, I want to get the right advice and take the right supplements," Magnussen, who retired from competitive swimming in 2019, said Friday, per Reuters. "I'd like to document it through video form. Show how it can be done safely, properly, and create an athlete we haven't seen before." (More sports doping stories.)