Mitchell Johnson: If James Magnussen wants to juice for the Enhanced Games, then let him

Mitchell Johnson
The Nightly
Australia's James Magnussen celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Men's 100m freestyle.
Australia's James Magnussen celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Men's 100m freestyle. Credit: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP

The fastest delivery I ever bowled was measured at 156.8kmh, delivered during the 2013/14 Ashes series when I was 32.

I’m a long time out of cricket but if I trained and got “juiced up”, I wonder what might be possible.

We’ve seen Shoaib Akhtar (161.3kmh) and Shaun Tait (161.1kmh) crack the magical 100 miles per hour mark, with Brett Lee (160.8kmh) not far behind.

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How fast could a human bowl with the assistance of drugs? Is 170kmh possible?

Now I’m honestly not interested in finding out personally. I have built my legacy and I’m proud to have my integrity in what I did in my sport. And even $1 million wouldn’t tempt me.

There is plenty of fuss around former swimmer James Magnussen saying he’ll “juice to the gills’ after putting himself forward as the inaugural athlete to commit to the Enhanced Games.

The potential health issues, his status as a role model and questions about what this means for sport in Australia have been the main concerns.

Doping has been going on in many sports, at many levels, for a long time. We know this.

The most infamous cases include track star Ben Johnson, the East German and Russian programs and of course cyclist Lance Armstrong, the sport’s dominant figure who was ultimately stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles. The list goes on.

James Magnussen
If James Magnussen wants to get his reputation dirty by doping for the Enhanced Games let him sink or swim, Mitchell Johnson writes. Credit: NIGEL WRIGHT

I am like everyone else when it comes to doping in sport, it is wrong and if you are found to be using performance enhancing drugs to get the upper hand then you should be banned and disgraced from your sport. I don’t care if you know or think that others are doing it. Integrity and pride come first.

The legacy you leave in sport knowing you never took a performance enhancing drug to cheat is also a great feeling.

But my question is why all the criticism over what Magnussen is attempting if he is being guided by professionals?

Perhaps the fuss is not really about his health, but the impression it gives to young athletes. Or concern around what this could potentially do to sport if an event like the Enhanced Games was more than a one-off event?

Could a swimmer give up their dream to become an Olympian and not go for gold but go for the millions?

You won’t see me attempting to crack 170kmh in my lifetime.

Magnussen is at a different time in his life and no longer a professional swimmer. He was probably paid peanuts when he was pro, so that sort of financial carrot is life changing for a lot of people.

He isn’t risking harming anyone but himself when it comes to the doping and I’m sure he is speaking to medical people about any concerns that are there.

The other question is whether Magnussen can actually break the 50m freestyle world record, having been out of swimming for quite a while.

In one sense, this is the opposite of usual sports doping. He is being open and upfront. There’s no hiding or cheating involved as the rules of the event allow it.

Mitchell Johnson says drugged up bowlers could break the 170kmh mark.
Mitchell Johnson says drugged up bowlers could break the 170kmh mark. Credit: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

I’m actually amazed it has taken until 2024 for an event like this to happen. It’s like a pub chat with mates — imagine everyone was doped up, it would be fair and even and we would see records broken.

Of course, there is nothing better than clean athletes competing fairly, training their backsides off in an attempt to break records cleanly.

But people should direct their worry to ensuring clean sport is clean. The Enhanced Games is just a novelty, not to be taken too seriously but something that will most likely draw people in to watch with intrigue.

While we all have differing opinions on this, it is Magnussen’s life and the path he has chosen to take. Whatever the outcome from this, he will need to accept it. If he wants to put his body through it, then that’s his choice.

I hope the Enhanced Games is only a one-off event. You won’t see me attempting to crack 170kmh in my lifetime.


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