Retired Australian swimming great James Magnussen says he will “100 per cent” take performance-enhancing drugs to compete again if the price is right.
The sensational claim comes as talk around the Enhanced Games — a competition that allows athletes to dope — heats up.
Speaking to The Age, Magnussen — who is a dual Olympian and 50m freestyle champion — said he was prepared to do it.
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“If they came to the party with $1 million for the (50m freestyle) world record, I would 100 per cent do it,” Magnussen said.
“It has to be for that big money though. Without it, I’m not putting my body through that. I’m semi serious.”
Organisers of an Olympic-style event for drug-taking athletes were quick to promise Magnussen a $1.5 million reward if he could break the 50 metres freestyle record.
Magnussen says he is happy to end his retirement to compete at the Enhanced Games. Credit: AAP
Magnussen is the first athlete in the world to publicly flag interest in competing at the Enhanced Games, founded by Australian entrepreneur Aron D’Souza.
“I have kept myself in reasonable shape in retirement,” Magnussen told the Hello Sport Podcast.
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“They (Enhanced Games) have said they have a billion-dollar person backing them.
“If they put up a million dollars for the 50 freestyle world record, I will come on board as their first athlete.
“I’ll juice to the gills and I’ll break it in six months.”
/Magnussen won gold, silver and bronze medals at Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016 and is a dual 100m freestyle world champion, in 2011 and 2013.
He retired from competitive swimming in 2019.
D’Souza last week announced two billionaries among financial backers for Enhanced Games, to be held in the middle of next year.
“Magnussen has the potential to show us what the human body, improved through science, is truly capable of,” D’Souza said.
“Whilst we have not spoken with James yet, we wish to publicly confirm the prizemoney that will inspire him and many other Olympic heroes to join the Enhanced movement.
“I do not doubt that James Magnussen, so known for his tenacity, determination and giant 6 foot 7 inches form, can break swimming’s most important world record.
“We will write James Magnussen a $US1 million cheque for breaking the 50 metre freestyle world record at the Enhanced Games.
“There will be multiple million-dollar prizes at the first Enhanced Games.
“The first enhanced athlete to publicly break Usain Bolt’s (100m) world record will also get at least $US1 million.”
Breaking any world record at the Enhanced Games would not be ratified as official given the multi-sports event won’t have drug testing.
Swimming and diving are among disciplines on the schedule with track and field athletics, weightlifting, gymnastics and combat sports.
Billionaires Peter Thiel and Christian Angermayer, along with multi-millionaire Balaji Srinivasan, were last week revealed as private-sector funders of Enhanced Games.
D’Souza said more than 900 athletes around the world had expressed in competing at the inauguaral Enhanced Games.
The Melbourne-born London-based businessman is in negotiations with global television networks and streaming services are to screen the inaugural Enhanced Games.
Venues around the world are pitching to host the first event, which has been criticised by Olympic officials as dangerous.
– With AAP