The reason I ask this is because according to this article, Magnus Carlsen is going to participate in FIDE's pilot project on doping test. FIDE says the reason behind it is that the organization wants to be considered as an Olympic sport by the IOC in the future, with anti-doping program set as a prerequisite.

I personally don't see how doping can increase the level of play, but I can see how it would decrease the level of play, but then there would be no point in doping. Also, is this a result of there has to be some anti-doping test for every Olympic sport regardless if doping has an effect or not?

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    I'm guessing they'd be testing for (certain types of / banned) nootropic drugs as opposed to steroids and the like. – Daniel B Dec 5 '12 at 19:15
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    Looks like they could test for steriods as well according to this chessville.com/editorials/DrugUseinIntellectualSports.htm. ...a study done in Leipzig, East Germany, before the reunification, showed that Chess players who were trained physically, like other athletes, were better enabled to deal with the dreaded “last hour syndrome” which afflicts International players at the worst possible time. – xaisoft Dec 5 '12 at 19:23
  • good point. That said, I have no doubt that one can obtain an unfair advantage using drugs which are expensive and / or dangerous to one's health, and this will only become more true as the drugs get "better". Perhaps the tendency of chess careers to span many years, and the relatively low pay deter people from going down that path. – Daniel B Dec 6 '12 at 6:15

One way to think about this - if there was no societal stigma or legality surrounding the issue, would the use of stimulants improve one's chess game?

A while back, there was a thread around this topic on chess.com, though be warned that a lot of it is just noise.

Seems like an interesting choice that has to be made - short-term increase in concentration (there are drugs for that: taking Adderall, Ritalin or caffeine) versus stimulants that enhance right-brain thinking that help one see increased connections.

When I read Jonah Lehrer's book "Imagine" I thought of possible connections to chess. The book covers this at some length, especially as it relates to Bob Dylan's creativity. This NYPost article covers it well:

Stimulants increase the flow of dopamine, creating a state in which “the world is suddenly saturated with interesting ideas,” Lehrer says. “Dopamine makes even the most tedious details too interesting to ignore.”

So it is arguable that these dopamine stimulating drugs can make players see connections and become a better player, at least for a period of time. For concentration improving stimulants, with a lot of immediate incentives riding on it, a player might opt for the short-term gain, even knowing the long term deterioration.


Erythropoietin (EPO) is a banned substance that does not specifically makes you look like Žydrūnas Savickas, it is a glycoprotein hormone that controls the production of red blood cells, which are responsible for delivering oxygen to the entire body, more oxygen = better overall, not hulk.

EPO is produced endogenous (meaning inside our bodies) and it is the administration of the exogenous synthetic protein that is banned from sports competitions.

EPO plays a major role in the brain's response to neuronal stress and neuronal injuries. It makes perfect sense that FIDE wants to test for drugs like this.

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