The world of competitive sports can be daunting, especially if you’ve never competed before. There are lots of rules, leading people to wonder about drug testing. Do Jiu-Jitsu tournaments drug test?

Tournaments hosted by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation drug test athletes. The USADA, a government agency, is who tests athletes. Top tier athletes who compete at the highest levels are drug tested at random. This helps keep a fair, clean atmosphere.

In this article, I’ll be going over how Jiu-Jitsu tournament drug tests work, types of prohibited drugs, and what happens if you fail a drug test before your match.

Drug Testing and Jiu-Jitsu – What You Should Know

Competitive Jiu-Jitsu tournaments didn’t always drug test contestants. At least, ones held by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation. The news that the IBJJF would start contestants took many people aback, and also received praise. 

And they’ve chosen a strong partner, too: the U.S Anti-Doping Agency, or USADA, will conduct and monitor testing for jiu-jitsu tournaments. They’re mainly looking for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) like steroids and blood doping.

There’s little question as to how legitimate the USADA is. After all, it’s the agency that tests Olympic and Pan-American athletes for top-tier athletic competitions. 

Athletes are typically tested both in and out of competition, and other resources are available too. A few examples include drug reference and therapeutic use exemptions. However, it’s unclear what mechanisms the IBJJF intends to utilize for their tournaments.

There has been some criticism, but the general consensus is that drug testing is a great preliminary requirement. Most believe it will elevate jiu-jitsu competitions to the same level of legitimacy as similar activities like UFC. The advantages, though, are hard to argue against.

Drug testing in sports helps:

  • Prevent cheating.
  • Protect athletes from unintended health consequences of utilizing black market drugs.
  • Deters the black market that peddles PEDs to athletes.
  • Identifies athletes that have substance abuse problems for rehab and counseling referrals.

Types of Prohibited Drugs

The main type of drugs that the USADA tests for in athletes are anabolic or androgenic steroids. This is a surprisingly broad category that includes not just steroids, but hormones and hormone precursors as well. 

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the different types of banned drugs. Sometimes banned drugs or metabolites are in everyday supplements, so athletes should be careful. Reading the label and doing your research is vital to picking suitable supplements.

Of course, the USADA is looking for other drugs besides PEDs.

Other banned drugs include:

  • Stimulants except for caffeine (cocaine, methamphetamine, methylphenidate, etc.)
  • Cannabis
  • Narcotics (such as heroin, morphine, fentanyl, hydromorphone, etc.)
  • Glucocorticoids (including hydrocortisone, cortisone, etc.)

Generally, drugs get banned because they give athletes some sort of performance edge over other contestants. Stimulants give more energy, narcotics reduce the ability to feel pain, and so on. Prohibiting these substances levels the playing field for all athletes and creates a clean and safe environment.

How Does Drug Testing Work?

Generally, not everyone participating in an IBJJF event will be drug tested – especially if it’s your first time. Drug testing properly requires a surprising amount of time, effort, and vigilance, so it’s not feasible to test everyone. 

If anyone is doping, it stands to reason that they will be in the higher echelons of performance. Therefore, those near the top-tier of events are the most likely to get drug tested. According to Gracie Mag, 10 athletes get tested at random. These athletes get selected from both male and female black belt contestants.

Urine and blood tests are the most common types of drug tests used by the USADA. Blood tests, specifically, are the gold standard for testing for PEDs. Urine tests are more common for recreational drugs like cocaine and cannabis.

What Happens if You Fail a Drug Test for a Jiu-Jitsu Tournament?

When athletes fail a drug screening, the USADA tells them it came back as an ‘Atypical Finding.’ That means they found banned drugs in your sample. This could be a false positive, though, so they follow procedure to confirm.

The USADA follows up by testing the second or ‘B’ sample you gave to confirm that their finding was correct the first time around. Then, the USADA will investigate if you’ve actually been doping. They give the findings to their Review Board, who gives the verdict on what happens.

Final Thoughts

IBJJF events may test for prohibited drugs, but most athletes aren’t tested. Generally, those performing at the highest level will be among the first to be drug tested at IBJJF hosted events.