Am I hearing right? That’s the first thing that came to mind when world renowned grappler Roberto ‘Cyborg’ Abreu posted this video on his Instagram page. The video is controversial because it leaves Abreu’s steroid/PEDs usage in question. Abreu has a podcast called “Age is just a number.” In the podcast, he talks about his training routine, habits and psychology. This week’s episode was about a very controversial topic in BJJ; testosterone.
Athletes who have tested positive before
Performance Enhancing Drug (PEDs) usage are a serious topic in most BJJ environments — both for users and non-users. They are, in my opinion, the most controversial topic in the sport. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an amateur sport, with no general regulations with regards to PEDs. The only competition that mildly tests for these enhancers is the IBJJF World Championships, and even those are sketchy.
Basically, PEDs in the BJJ community are consensually used across all platforms. Some strongly agree with their usage, some emphatically disagree. But we all know athletes use them. Even at smaller gyms, you can see these physical specimens that leave you scratching your head. Usage is quite obvious in the Masters divisions, as competitiors in these age groups move like panthers and are all over 30. Spoiler: Abreu is a multiple Master Worlds champion. Usage in adult divisions is hard to refute as well.
Some of the highest profile fighters like Felipe Pena, Braulio Estima, Gabi Garcia and Kaynan Duarte have popped for PEDs. This is why the video is so interesting. It shows ‘Cyborg’ Abreu talking with Marcos de Andrade, founder of BioHaxs, about testosterone usage. Of course, nothing is disclosed in the video about Abreu’s usage, but the video certainly shows that they know quite a lot about the issue.
If you don’t want to watch the full 15 minutes, skip to around the 11:30 minute mark. That’s where all the interesting bits begin. ‘Cyborg’ Abreu goes as far as to say that he doesn’t consider testosterone to be a “performance enhancer.”During the video, they argue that testosterone levels go down as we grow older, and that this means that we need to take the values back to what they “are supposed to” be with external treatment.
The video aims at “demistifying” testosterone and particularly Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) as a “performance enhancer,” but I think it does exactly the opposite. They mention that you can get it naturally by improving gut health and sleep regimes. But is this true though? Studies have shown that poor sleep in fact lowers testosterone levels at about 10 percent. Gut health and inflammation have also been related to testosterone.
This all seems to be coherent with what they are talking about, but there’s some sketchiness. First, they both seem to be too knowledgeable on the subject. Second, Abreu turns 40 in three weeks, so he should be way past his prime, even with good sleep and diet. The only thing I think explains this is PEDs. Of course, I don’t know Abreu personally, and this is only my opinion. But I think their statement in the video is obvious. You need to supplement the testosterone you “lose,” by any means necessary.
Let me clarify that I’m not an expert on the subject or qualified to talk about steroids or PEDs. But I think what everyone wants is PED-free sport. I want a sport that is PED free and I don’t think we are getting it. I don’t want to put other athletes under the microscope, but we know that at least four other world champions have popped. And that is while being tested once a year. And in a competition everybody knows.
This raises another interesting question about PEDs: Should everyone use them? Every athlete and their mother is on them, or at least the vast majority. So why not just allow them for everyone? Make it a complete freakshow of steroids and testosterone and see who comes out on top.
If you want my honest opinion, I have a lot of respect for ‘Cyborg’ Abreu as a competitor, but this video left me thinking about PEDs and how much I want them banned. Or at least I want to have a steroid-free division. You can have another one with all the juiced-to-the-gills competitors if you want. But I don’t agree with the general premise of the video. You should compensate the testosterone you lose? Should we really fight this testosterone loss? Is there evidence that supports that humans should supplement testosterone externally?
I do understand that most athletes in the sport are using, and that there is no real incentive to not use enhancers. But I really want an incentive for them to restrain from using. It would make the competition scene more intriguing.