‘I have no shame in this’ – Vagner Rocha discusses USADA sanctions

Vagner Rocha recently spoke about the USADA sanction he accepted as a result of his refusal to submit to testing in connection with the 2022 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds.

In March, the IBJJF and USADA announced that five IBJJF black belt competitors had been hit with doping sanctions as a result of testing in connection with the 2022 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds. 

Four of those athletes tested positive for a banned substance, but one of them – Vagner Rocha – refused to submit to testing both at the event and an out-of-competition test afterward, resulting in the same sanction as if he had tested positive.

Rocha recently appeared on the “Mayn Idea Podcast” and spoke about his refusal to test and the IBJJF drug testing program.

A longtime veteran of the elite no-gi scene and veteran of 18 professional MMA bouts, Rocha isn’t shy about his use of testosterone replacement therapy, which is banned under USADA guidelines.

Rocha admitted:

“Yes, I am taking steroids. I am 40 years old. I’m about to be 41. I am on TRT for the last five years of my life. I actually posted about it a couple of months ago, like 3 months ago. I have no shame in this.”

At the 2022 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds, Rocha earned his spot in the final of the heavyweight division. According to him, he didn’t learn he would be tested until he was at the event and he opted out of competing in the final because it would have been against a teammate. 

He says he chose not to test at the event because he knew he would have failed:

“I’m going to clearly fail the test, right? I’m not taking a test. So what I did is, I didn’t show up to pick up the medal because I felt it’s not fair for me to go on that podium, grab the first place medal, even though I know I had already won… I’m not gonna grab the first place medal and go home and say, ‘hey I won the world championships,’ even though I knew, the ruleset, I couldn’t do that…

“I didn’t know. I went to the tournament. I didn’t even fill out the waiver. I asked my daughter to sign me, her brother, and her up.”

He added:

“I didn’t even know. I showed up to the tournament, I’m competing, three matches in, I’m four matches into the finals now, and they’re like ‘oh, you’re gonna have to test if you win.’ I already knew I was gonna win because the other finalist was a teammate of mine who said he wasn’t gonna compete against me because he already knew that even if we competed I was gonna win.”

Rocha also shared his thoughts on the IBJJF’s drug testing program. He says that, so long as athletes are paying to compete, they should not be subject to testing or should be permitted a certain amount of modifications, such as doctor-prescribed TRTs:

“For you to test me for a sport that is amateur to me, it’s an amateur sport, right? I’m paying to compete. I pay to show up. I pay for my hotel. I pay for my training. There’s no part of it that I’m making any money out of this…

“How about we test everybody, and then we’ll see what’s left from there, and that will change the sport. If you’re looking to change the sport, why test one person?…

“I think, allow people to have a certain level of regulation to their body so that they can perform, so that they can recover, so that they can live longer, so that they can be healthier, so that they can recover from injuries faster.”

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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