5 IBJJF competitors hit with USADA sanctions

Five athletes, including Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu and Vagner Rocha, have accepted USADA sanctions.

Consistent with the IBJJF and USADA’s drug testing protocol, a number of athletes recently accepted three-year bans from IBJJF competition, USADA announced on Wednesday. The sanctions came as a result of samples collected (or a refusal to submit to testing) in conjunction with the 2022 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds.

The following competitors accepted sanctions: Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu, Igor Nascimento, Jonnatas Gracie, Henrique Cardoso, and Vagner Rocha. Each athlete admitted to the violation, thereby reducing their ban from four years to three.

Notably, four of the above athletes took home gold at No-Gi Worlds – Abreu, Gracie, Cardoso, and Rocha. In addition to their bans from competition, they will be stripped of their world titles.

Of the five athletes, four tested positive for exogenous testosterone, among other substances. Rocha, though, refused to submit a sample during an out-of-competition test, which earned him the same sanction had he tested positive for a banned substance. Rocha recently posted on social media, admitting that he undergoes testosterone replacement therapy, but otherwise does not take what he considers to be performance-enhancing drugs.

At the 2022 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds, both Abreu and Cardoso advanced to the final of the men’s absolute division, but were disqualified after failing to appear for the final. Naturally, that led to speculation that both men were attempting to avoid USADA testing. That may have been the case, but their samples were collected weeks after the event.

Of course, the USADA sanctions only apply to IBJJF competition; these athletes are free to compete at any other event, including ADCC events, Who’s Number One, or any other major competition outside of the IBJJF.

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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