Opinion: Steroids Make Grappling More Entertaining

Steroids are ruining our sport. They’re making our athletes train harder, compete more and recover from injuries quicker.

Since the birth of organised sports there has been athletes trying to seek an unfair advantage. In ancient Greece, runners ate animal testicles and hearts, in Rome Gladiators took hallucinogens to numb the pain and stave off fatigue before literally fighting to the death and in the 19th century, lacrosse players chewed coca leaves to get them through a game.

The 20th century brought the age of super-doping, first marathon runners tried mixtures of strychnine, heroin, cocaine, and caffeine. As the century went on the world was entrenched in two great wars and in those wars human optimization was of the utmost importance with the Nazis trialing amphetamines and anabolics.

In the post-war world sports became a way for nations to show their dominance and doping came to the fore again. We know all about the steroid scandals of the 80s and 90s and the golden age of MMA doping throughout the 2000s and the issues it brought.

The pre-USADA world of prize fighting was a scary place and there were juiced up monsters causing serious harm and this is what people cite when they say they want grappling to be clean. There is a huge difference between BJJ and MMA however, BJJ fighters aren’t getting kicked in the head by juiced up behemoths and they aren’t really risking permanent damage unless they are stupid enough not to tap.

I have covered MMA for 10 years and in that time I have known former champions that doped for years and never got caught and even now in the USADA age there is ways to test clean as long as you have the cash to do it. Drug testing doesn’t make a clean sport, it just means only people with the money to burn can dope.

Recently the IBJJF have announced that they will be doing tests at the no gi worlds. If anyone fails a test that they know about 3 months in advance they are simply dumb. These tests will only catch the most naive people and you can bet your life that the elite grapplers are already planning when to cycle off so that they test clean.

Instead of wasting money on testing we should pay athletes more. BJJ is a hard sport with little financial gain. Show me a black belt and I’ll show you a man with serious injuries. We want to watch our favourite grapplers compete twice a month and yet people are naive enough to think that we should make these guys do it naturally. Anyone who thinks you can compete multiple times per month and train twice per day while being clean is naive.

If we had stringent out-of-competition testing the amount of times guys compete would drop, BJJ would lose it’s already tiny fansbase and we would all complain about how slow-paced the sport has become.

BJJ has been built on steroids. Look at the World Championship and ADCC champs for the last 15 years and tell me how many of them are you sure are clean? Why do you care if an athlete takes steroids? If they all take peds so that they can train harder and enjoy the sport then more power to them. Instead of clamping down on PEDs why not have drug-free comps instead?

I have competed against guys on the gear and yes it can be annoying, but people will always cheat and in every sport people will be using.

I love BJJ and I love watching the best in the world compete week in week out and if they need to take something to do it, then I am okay with it. I would rather watch a 15-minute super fight between to grapplers in the physical peak rather than a 10 minute stall fest between grapplers who are underpaid, overworked and exhausted.

2 thoughts on “Opinion: Steroids Make Grappling More Entertaining

  • September 12, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    A-Men! Absolutely.
    I see no moral dilemma with a BJJ athlete doping, so that they can train longer, harder and more often.
    Especially in a non tested event.
    This is why I believe Jenna Bishop is a cunt. Her and her husband. How pathetic do you have to be to get your own test to prove you are clean? Why do you even do that, other than as a reason to fall back on as to why you aren’t winning that division?
    Her moral posturing is disgusting. She doesn’t train as hard as elite level athletes who dope. Want to know why? Because I dope. I’ll share the ADCC stage with her, and I trained as much as I could naturally. I literally spent as many hours on the mat as I possibly could, and then wanted more. I wanted to work harder. I needed to get even better. So I started with one compound, then began using several. This was so I could train for ≈40 hours a week.

    For people with the highest ambitions, PEDs aren’t a shortcut; they’re the bus that takes you to that job site where you can do a hell of a lot more work.

    In 16 days I’ll share the stage with Jenna, at the
    ADCC . I don’t hate her, but I hate every action and social media post she’s taken, on the subject. The only even playing field is the one that allows all athletes to reach Maximal Human Performance. The field that benefits those who were genetically gifted at birth is not the fair one. You want to give our sport an even playing field? How about letting everyone perform at their apex?

  • September 19, 2019 at 8:52 pm

    This is such a reckless opinion, for several reasons. Note: I am arguing that we shouldn’t openly support/allow PEDs in BJJ competition. I realize that a significant number of competitors use PEDs surreptitiously, but this is an argument against openly allowing the practice.

    1. If you allow steroids, then steroids will essentially be required in order to reach the highest levels of the sport. It’s an automatic competitive advantage for the guys willing to use them. Extremely talented guys that don’t want to push the limits of pharmaceutical enhancement will be unlikely to succeed against a field of mega-juicers, just from a physicality standpoint. Open it up and guys like Keenan will have a much harder time.

    2. We would be openly encouraging low income competitors desperate to make a name for themselves to tear their bodies apart using PEDs. They make it to the top, win 2-3 gold medals at worlds, then live the rest of their life with a shattered body. The body needs time to recover for a reason, we shouldn’t encourage ignoring the recovery process by pharmaceutically masking the need for recovery.

    3. PED abuse is horrible for you. Look at pro wrestling — if there were ever an argument for “fuck it, let’em use!” it would be for sports entertainment, where nobody is fighting a fully-resisting opponent. How many of those guys died too early? Davey Boy Smith aka ‘The British Bulldog’ (died 2002, aged 39, heart attack), Randy Poffo aka ‘Macho Man Randy Savage’ (died 2011, aged 58, heart attack), Raymond Traylor aka ‘The Big Boss Man’ (died 2004, aged 42, heart attack), Curt Henning aka ‘Mr Perfect’ (died 2003 aged 44, acute cocaine intoxication), Raymond Rood aka ‘Ravishing Rick Rude (died 1999, aged 40, heart failure), Michael Hegstrand aka ‘Road Warrior Hawk’ (died 2003, aged 56, heart attack), Jim Hellwig aka “The Ultimate Warrior” (died 2014, age 54, heart attack).


    4. PEDs are illegal.

    5. PEDs run counter to the entire ethos behind jiu jitsu — technique over power, the gentle art. Openly supporting PEDs would turn this into the smash art.

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