Retired Australian swimmer James Magnussen faces legal issues in doped world record attempt

Retired swimming champion James Magnussen faces potential legal and ethical issues after declaring he will deliberately dope in an unofficial attempt to break the 50-meter freestyle world record.

Magnussen will be paid $1 million to make the attempt at the Enhanced Games, a sort of Olympics without drug testing that has been condemned by the Australian Olympic Committee as “dangerous and irresponsible.”

“I want to approach this the right way,” Magnussen said Friday in an Instagram post. “So I want to go to America. I want to get the right advice. I want to take the right supplements. I don’t know much about that world so I want to do my research. I want to have the right team behind me.”

Using performance enhancing substances is against the law in many countries.

In the United States, many performance enhancers are illegal. Using anabolic steroids without a prescription, for instance, can lead to a one-year jail term. In an interview last year with CNN, Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, called the idea of the Enhanced Games “farcical … likely illegal in many (U.S.) states” and “a dangerous clown show, not real sport.”

Magnussen said he wants to document his effort on video and “show how it can be done safely, properly and create an athlete that we haven’t seen before.”

Brazil’s Cesar Cielo set the 50 free world record of 20.91 seconds in 2009 in a rubberized suit that was then banned.

The 32-year-old Magnussen has a personal best of 21.52 in the 50 free that he set 11 years ago. He is a two-time world champion in the 100 free and won Olympics medals in 2012 and 2016.

The time and venue of the Enhanced Games have yet to be announced.

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