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Blockchain 2.0 will boost anti-Doping fight, sports investments and e-Sports

Since its first display by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, the blockchain system, backbone of the Bitcoin, has proved to be a game-changer. It shows that the world is heading towards a second wave of the technological development, which will foster other domains than finance, and which will include the Olympic anti-Doping fight, sports investments and e-Sports.

In the 2016 book “The blockchain revolution: How the technology behind Bitcoin is changing money, business and the world ”, Dan and Alex Tapscott outline the steps of the development of this marvelous technology. In their book, the authors go back to the mid-2000s, when the IT specialists could only “imagine a technology that could preserve our freedom to choose for ourselves and our families, to express these choices in the world, and to control our own destiny, no matter where we lived or were born” and when the questions on how such a technology could benefit business, services and raise new opportunities were only beginning to be formulated. However, the watershed happened in October 2008, when the 37-year-old inventor Satoshi Nakamoto released the white paper “Bitcoin: a Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, which described the idea of a distributed database to manage financial units, and launched the first software supporting the bitcoin network. Nakamoto had invented the first blockchain and used it to build the first crypto-currency, hence triggering the Bitcoin phenomenon.

Vitaly Buterin, the visionary founder of the public decentralized  platform Ethereum, explained that that “thanks to the power of modern communication, we have the ability to create technologies that are decentralized, removing middlemen and allowing users to interact with each other directly through a global network”, hereby enhancing the transparency and trust of the financial transactions at a global level. Being the most powerful expression of this tendency, the blockchain has shifted the threshold of economic transactions and has therefore gained the attention of major players in finance.

The declaration of the CEO of NASDAQ Bob Greifeld that he is “a big believer in the ability of blockchain technology to effect fundamental change in the infrastructure of the financial service industry” could not be more representative of the model’s impact. The centralized crypto-currencies like Bitcoin, Bittorrent and Ether have indeed enabled people to ship money to any place in the world in real time at affordable fees, without tariffs imposed at national borders, and have revolutionized online payments by supplying the so-called “trust function”- consequently, they removed the necessity of any intermediaries.

Blockchain’s application  can go beyond financial transactions and transform a wide range of sectors

The Bitcoin has played a massive role in reinventing contemporary finance, but the true pivot of the revolution is the distributed ledger that works as its backbone: the blockchain, a 100 % safe database composed by a series of blocks that hinder and avert any external intrusion.      Its core characteristics are : the decentralization of the system whose protection against cyber-attacks is guaranteed by all the computers registered in the structure; the complexity of the chain of blocks, which are intertwined with one another through complex algorithms; and last but not least, the inclusion of the encrypted data in every block which secures data integrity and reliability. As Vitalik Buterin claims, the blockchain “has its math. It has its computer science. It has its cryptography. It has its economics. It has its political and social philosophy” and constitutes therefore an incredible device for data protection.

Since data protection and security of information transmission is becoming paramount in increasing aspects of daily life, the blockchain has the chance to shuffle the cards on the table in countless different fields. As the associate professor of computer science at Cornell University Said Emin Gun Sirer affirmed indeed, almost ten years after its launch we are entering “the second wave of the blockchain technology”, during which public and private actors will start to invest in brand-new applications of the database, in what can be identified as a modern gold rush. The model could be used to secure large amounts of data in healthcare, to prevent illegal downloading of TV series, to protect royalties in the music industry and to guarantee that no elections can be rigged. Among other interesting options going far beyond financial transactions, the blockchain could boost innovation in the sports field.

Unlocking the blockchain’s potential can transform the sports domain

 First of all, the blockchain could improve sports data protection and management at Olympic level. During the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, we witnessed the doping scandal  at the World-Anti Doping Agency (WADA): athletes’ medical records were disclosed by leaks perpetrated by the Fancy Bears hackers and they disclosed not only the Therapeutic Use Exemptions  granted to athletes, but also the intricate interactions and data exchanges going on at Olympic level. The Olympic Sports landscape is undoubtedly complex: the data coming from anti-doping analyses are taken by national anti-doping laboratories and then shared with the athletes, the National Anti-Doping Organizations, the International Sports Federations, WADA and the International Olympic Committee. This entails that the data can be seen by an impressive number of users and therefore confirms that the Anti-Doping system absolutely requires a decentralized database which can protect data integrity. Therefore, as suggested by former gymnastic champion and visionary inventor Alexander Chernozubov, the blockchain could represent the missing link to secure athletes’ medical records, the interconnections between actors in the Olympic community and to guarantee  prosecution in the fight against doping and to safeguard clean sports.

Secondly, the blockchain could boost investment in athletes, which until today has been the purview of sports corporations and management agencies. The blockchain could be the tool that permits sports fans to hold a stake in their favorite sportsmen, thereby decentralizing the process of funding the athletes. The concept has not yet been applied on a large scale, however the Jetcoin Institute has developed a sort of a prototype inspired by the Bitcoin. In cooperation with the Italian football club Hellas Verona, the Jetcoin Institute has indeed launched the concept of a cyber-currency called “Jetcoin” which enables the supporters of the club to invest in their favorite players, and to get shares of the athletes’ future incomes, the best seats during the matches and invitations to VIP events.

Last but not least, the blockchain could boost e-Sports franchising and P2P online gaming. An example is FirstBlood Technologies Inc., a US-based firm which has launched the first crowdsale of its e-Sports token. The company’s platform where the tokens will be used is built on top of Ethereum and it will constitute an innovative display of the blockchain in e-Sports. The platform will allow e-Sports amateurs to play matches, host tournaments, witness matches, vote in juries and claim rewards. This application of the blockchain in e-Sports has been developed by highly skillful experts: as technical advisor to FirstBlood,  Joey Krug states, “fun and practical blockchain applications are desperately needed if the space ever hopes to see serious consumer adoption. You can count on one hand the number of teams working on these types of projects: FirstBlood is one of them”.

To conclude, thanks to the efforts of the afore-mentioned several players, the world can hope that the second wave of the blockchain will bring as much benefit to many crucial sectors in the same way that the first wave did, and that the start-ups and inventors will soon fully foster   the blockchain’s potential many sectors, including sports investments, e-Sports and anti-doping fight.

 

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