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Australian swimmer James Magnussen to take banned drugs in attempt to swim faster than world record

Chris Byfield

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| Last updated 

Australian swimmer James Magnussen to take banned drugs in attempt to swim faster than world record

Former world champion James Magnussen said he would take banned drugs in an attempt to swim faster than the world record.

Magnussen will come out of retirement to compete in the Enhanced Games, where doping is permitted, and swim faster than the 50-metre freestyle record. Notably, it will not be official because there would be no drug-testing regime.

The Australian, who will be paid $1million (£792,000), said: "I'll juice to the gills and I'll break it in six months.”

The men’s 50m freestyle world record (20.91 seconds) was set by Cesar Cielo back in 2009. However, the Brazilian was wearing a performance-enhancing, non-textile swimsuit at the time, which was banned a few months after the record-breaking swim.

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Magnussen, who won 100m freestyle world titles in 2011 and 2013 and Olympic silver at London 2012, has a 50m personal best of 21.52, which he achieved 11 years ago.

While the 32-year-old will be free to take whatever performance-enhancing drugs he wants, he insisted he does not want to take any health risks.

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"I thought it was an interesting concept from the first time I heard it," Magnussen, who retired in 2019, told Sydney's SEN radio.

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"We're pretty aware as Olympians, particularly in Australia, that performance enhancements are going on in other countries, but it's not a level playing field internationally.

"I want to go to America, I want to get the right advice and take the right supplements.

"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."

The Enhanced Games was founded last year by Australian businessman Aron D'Souza and is a competition that would not be subject to World Anti-Doping Agency rules.

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It is set to include athletics, swimming, weightlifting, gymnastics and combat sports.

Magnussen won 100m freestyle world titles in 2011 and 2013 and Olympic silver at London 2012 (Getty)
Magnussen won 100m freestyle world titles in 2011 and 2013 and Olympic silver at London 2012 (Getty)

However, the proposal has attracted criticism, with the UK Anti-Doping Agency saying in 2023 that it was "extremely concerned by the concept of an Enhanced Games".

"The premise of sports competitions that allow performance-enhancing drugs is unsafe, dangerous to athletes' health and wellbeing, and flies in the face of fair play," it said.

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Meanwhile, D'Souza told the Australian Associated Press: "An Australian swimmer, the most important sport in the Australian psyche. I am just so proud that it's another fellow Aussie.

"I have no doubt now that James has done this publicly there will be dozens, hundreds of athletes [ready to join]. My phone is blowing up."

Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: Swimming

Chris Byfield
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