Editor's Note: Thank you to the nearly 700 participants in our online steroids study. The data collected was interesting but even more so was the information provided by the black belts and bloggers who answered our more lengthy questionnaire. If the numbers are too much of a bore move on to the Discussion section, read and formulate your own opinion. This topic is so faceted I am looking forward to the discussions still to come.
Some numbers to note: 143 of 690 people said they had used performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in the past. That is 20%. Demographically, white belts and black belts were the least likely to have used PEDs.
My heartfelt thanks to Matthew Corley for the countless hours and tireless research to produce this paper.
Title: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and the Culture of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs): A Review of Online Survey Data
Author: Matthew Corley,RPh
Abstract: There is a persistent perception in high-level BJJ competitions that many medal winners are using steroids and other PEDs to succeed. This article collates the opinions of nearly 700 BJJ practitioners and provides a detailed breakdown of the opinions of those participants based on their demographics.
Insight from current and former world champions was also solicited for a first-hand perspective on PED usage at the highest level. The bios of the subject matter experts are available by hyperlink at the end of the article under the acknowledgements section.
Please take a minute and take our 10 question survey on the use of PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Your input will help us formulate a consensus that we will share here next week.
Testosterone replacement therapy is probably one of the hottest topics in MMA and BJJ right now. Almost every major fight card has fighters that are either openly on TRT or who have tested positive for anabolic steroids at some point in their career. According to Larry Pepe the Nevada State Athletic Commission has given 6 UFC (current or former) fighters TRT exemptions.
If you think that the use of TRT is limited to MMA then you haven't been around the competitive BJJ scene for long. Prominent BJJ competitors, such as Caio Terra, have been very vocal on instituting testing of all black belt winners and addressing (in his opinion) the rampant use of PEDs in competition. To date there are no major tournaments that include PED testing for any of their athletes.
This article is meant to educate about TRT. It will not go into any detail on any aspect of using testosterone or other anabolic agents illegally. If you're not going to your physician to get a prescription and then filling it at your local pharmacy you should stop reading now. A level playing field is fundamental for all sports. Athletes should compete within the rules of the sport that they've chosen, whatever those rules happen to be.
Here's some info on the testing for testosterone abuse:
What is a T:E Ratio?
Testosterone (T) = male sex hormone that is both anabolic (increased protein synthesis in tissues) and androgenic (development and maintenance of male characteristics) Epitestosterone (E) =an inactive form of testerone that is a naturally occuring in the body
Most men have a ratio of T to E of 1:1. Studies have shown that in male athletes the mean ratio was 1.15:1 and for those in the top 95th percentile 3.71:1(1). The World Anti-Doping Agency allows a 4:1 ratio while the NCAA and many state athletic commisions allow a 6:1 ratio.
The 4:1 ratio was chosen so that there is 95% accuracy for the test to determine that the T:E ratio of the athlete tested is artificially high. I found mention of a study showing that a ratio of ~6:1 can be found in men in the 99thpercentile. I was not able to find the specific study on PubMed but did find several references to it. The 6:1 ratio has been the standard for several large athletic organizations going back 30 years or more.
T:E is used in PED monitoring because externally added testosterone will NOT convert to epitestosterone (2). An athlete that adds testosterone to his/her body will see a rise in their T while the E remains the same, creating an irregularity in the T:E ratio. For those that are interested in reading more on this please check out this link (http://scienceblogs.com/purepedantry/2006/07/27/floyd-landis-and-testosterone/)
1. Trout GJ, Soo S, Kelly, K; Longitudinal Variability of T/E Ratios in Austrailian Athletes. Recent advances in doping analysis (10). Sport und Buch Strauss, Koln, (2002) 261-265