UPDATE April 16, 2011: Gracie Barra’s response has been added below.
On Sunday’s episode of The FightWorks Podcast we interviewed the 2011 Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship light featherweight gold medalist Caio Terra and discussed his claim that a significant percentage of elite Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes use performance-enhancing drugs.
We have no way of knowing whether his claims are true. Only the BJJ competitors themselves know whether they’ve used steroids to gain a competitive edge over their opponents. But what we can do is inquire to prominent groups in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and ask whether they have a policy on the matter.
It was obvious we needed to speak with the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation. In deciding which BJJ teams to approach, we thought it fair to ask the teams who have been most successful in recent World Championships. Alliance, Gracie Barra, and CheckMat won the 1rst, 2nd, and 3rd place adult team medals respectively for the past two years, so we thought they would be a good start.
Question sent to the IBJJF: Do the IBJJF and its member bodies like the USBJJF have any rules or regulations that prohibit performance enhancing drugs and / or steroids? If there are no such rules or regulations, do you think there will be anytime soon?
IBJJF Spokesperson Mike Buckels promptly responded:
The IBJJF does not currently have a steroid testing policy in place. It has been discussed and is still being discussed. As this would be a major change the IBJJF will take as much time as it deems necessary to research and possibly implement such a policy.
We sent this inquiry to senior representatives in Alliance, Gracie Barra, and CheckMat on March 30th:
Does your team have a policy regarding the use of steroids and / or performance enhancing drugs (including human growth hormome) for its athletes? If yes, what is the policy? If not, does your team plan on implementing such a policy in the future?
Alliance’s Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti quickly responded by email:
We don’t have any policy on steroids or performance enhancing drugs, we try to advice our athletes about the danger of taking these drugs for their health, however we have no way to know if there is anybody using anything, I personally think is very hard to find out or prove unless you ask this or that guy to test.
We have no plans to implementing a plan, the best way in our opinion is just to tell people once in a while about the dangers of taking any drugs in general, we believe our schools are drugs free environment but we have no way to know what people do outside the school.
PS. This subject was brought up by Caio Terra trying to say that there are guys in Jiu Jitsu using steroids, well if you are accusing someone you have to prove, don’t just trow things in the air because this can bring you problems, he is always crying about this or that, always trying to blame a referee or because he didn’t do well is because he has some injure, etc.. just shut up and fight, he is a good fighter but he need to just fight and talk less.
On April 16, 2011 we received this response:
Gracie Barra does not condone the use of performance enhancing drugs. Furthermore, P.E.D.’s are illegal and could potentially have a negative effect in our schools. At Gracie Barra our goal is to provide a safe, clean, drug free environment for our students and families.
Gracie Barra Association Staff
(Despite multiple inquiries, CheckMat did not respond back as of this writing.)
For the record, if we hear from CheckMat we will promptly update this page with their response. We are also more than happy to hear from other teams if they would like to formally state their position on steroid use.
Image of CheckMat Jiu-Jitsu patch provided by AliciaPhotos.com.