While PED use is unfortunately prevalent in many sports, including combat sports like BJJ, it is important to recognize that not all athletes engage in such practices. Many BJJ champions have achieved their success through hard work, dedication, genetics and a commitment to fair play.
It is essential that all athletes compete on a level playing field, and organizations such as the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) have implemented testing protocols to detect and deter PED use.
Felipe Pena recently reflected on how Gi and Nogi BJJ are different modalities – that make very different demands on the body. Nogi BJJ requires more wrestling and more athleticism so it invites more scrutiny.
During a recent appearance on the Lex Fridman podcast, B Team’s Craig Jones shared an interesting take on how widespread PED use is in the BJJ Community.
“I MEAN IT’S HARD TO SAY. YOU KNOW, SOME PEOPLE LOOK LIKE S**T AND THEY’RE ON STER0IDS. SOME PEOPLE LOOK EXCELLENT AND THEY’RE NOT ON STER0IDS. IT’S SO, SO HARD TO TELL.”
Later on Jones added:
“Yeah, I mean if a sport doesn’t test, you’ve got to assume most people are going to do it. And especially now as more money comes into this what you’ve got to assume more people are going to do it.”
Jones also addressed the moral qualms of taking PEDs, considering major BJJ competitions (besides IBJJF Worlds) aren’t testing:
“I mean, it is cheating for sure. Whether they test for it or not, I think it is cheating. Obviously, some people are going to say, oh, if everyone’s on it, I should be able to get away with it. It makes it even playing field.”
“You know, but it kind of becomes Russian roulette because it’s like if one guy is taking a small amount. And the other guy is taking a huge amount. He’s going to reap huge rewards in the short time. Probably be dead pretty early, but die a champion, mind you.”
But this was all prior to the major USADA news. Late yesterday, the news broke that 5 participants in Nogi World championships received substantial suspensions.
Among the suspensions are ADCC winner Roberto Cyborg Abreu, Vagner Rocha, Jonnatas Gracie and more.
Jones reacted to the news on his social media and highlighted the fact that USADA caught up with these men despite the fact they initially passed on appearing on the podium following IBJJF Nogi World championships.
“USADA followed these boys for out of competition testing. You ain’t safe nowhere. Even if you run from the podium.”
While this wasn’t explicitly outlined in the press release, it’s very apparent once you observe the varying testing dates for different athletes considering that USADA tests BJJ athletes just twice a year, following a win at either Gi or Nogi world championships.
At the time, Victor Hugo expressed his disdain for their absence from the podium. Now he raised an interesting question – will they be allowed to compete in non-IBJJF competitions featured on the same streaming service?