The trivialization of doping in Jiu-Jitsu and the biggest fallacies in defense of its use.
Contrary to what people want to believe, the biggest advantage of those who use these resources is not the strength itself at the time of the fight, which should be welcomed, but the ability to recover faster from strenuous training sessions and injuries. If it were just the benefit of strength itself, some not well-versed could accept the argument that “Jiu-Jitsu is not strength, so put a weightlifter there to see if he wins”, but this is an argument from those who think about steroids as the thing that makes you bloated and muscular, when in reality the biggest benefit is different. In cycling, for example, there are no athletes with large muscle mass, so there are several cases of athletes caught using doping, even when strict control are applied.
Within everything I've heard and read about it, I'll say again that the biggest benefit is the possibility of much faster recovery between one workout and another and coming back from injuries faster. While one athlete arrives at the end of the week exhausted and in need of rest, the other is able to continue training without feeling drained. It then becomes a matter of logic: among athletes of similar levels, if one can train more than the other, whoever trains more has an advantage.
It is known that there have always been people using drugs to improve performance in training and championships, but those who used or still use them do not usually admit it outside their circle of intimate friends. For me, this is the biggest proof that whoever does it knows they are cheating. This person is ashamed to publicly assume their behaviour, as he secretly wonders if he would be capable of the same achievements if he were clean. Therefore, he does not want the public to raise concerns about his ability to achieve the same results, because, within himself, he bets he would not.
“The use of anabolic steroids does not make a person good at Jiu-Jitsu.”
This is a common argument from those who defend those who test positive in the anti-doping test, but again it starts from a wrong premise, that the purpose of use is just to gain strength. The drug itself doesn't make anyone good at Jiu-Jitsu or even become good at strategies involving competition. If I were to give steroids to a lady walking on the Copacabana promenade, she won't enter and win any championship. But think of your gym partner who trains the hardest with you, that balanced out training, which you win one day and he beats you the next. You are always pulling and encouraging yourself to improve.
Did you think of anyone? Now give this guy an enhancer. Will he have an advantage or not? The answer is yes and ends with the initial argument, which is a reasoning that only thinks about gaining strength, so it is used in the wrong circumstances and therefore leads to wrong conclusions. Faced with this example, I can still argue that yes, the use of anabolic steroids can make a person good at Jiu-Jitsu, as it allows them to train more often, bringing about faster technical evolution, if we consider that training evolves.
Still using the same example with this training partner who now started to use enhancers. Imagine that before, he did 5 workouts a week and now he can do twice as much, because it doesn't take as long as for him to rest or recover from an injury. At the end of 12 months you trained 260 times and he trained 520. If the next year you stay clean and he doesn't, he will have accumulated 1040 trainings and you will have 520. It's like he advances two years for every year of training you did . Can you imagine how much more Jiu-Jitsu techniques evolve in someone who initially has a similar level to his, but manages to train twice as much? So I could even say that the use of anabolic steroids can actually make a person good at Jiu-Jitsu. Robbing a bank can also make a person rich, but I don't want to get rich that way. It goes from how you want to achieve your dreams and goals.
I can imagine some people arguing that “so I take it too”. Got it, but then it would be you and him getting undue advantage over two other friends or opponents from another gym. What's the problem? The problem with that is that it's illegal, it's prohibited, so whoever does it and enters a championship like the IBJJF that forbids it in the rules, is cheating.
A simpler and more direct example. If it were possible a confrontation between you and your identical version, but that makes use of these anabolic steroids. Who gets the advantage? Those who ask themselves know the answer and when they know it, it is impossible to support any defense of its use, unless the illegality in the rules and the health risks are disregarded.
"Those who don’t want to use it, simply don’t."
When reading about the undue advantages of those who take it, without listing the health risks, it might even seem like an excuse. If it speeds up recovery from fatigue and injuries, should I take it? Let's ignore that it's against the rule for a moment, as I know that there are events that don't test and one could argue that in those events it's not illegal. Yet there are health hazards that some people are not willing to deal with..
“If you test everyone, there’s not one single person that will be clean.”
This phrase has become a cliché in BJJ, as well as the idea that
“you can only be a champion by taking enhances, because everyone takes them”.
Phrases that also start from wrong premises, first because it is not true that everyone takes it, although many of those at the top do. What must be remembered is that there are those who prefer to respect the rules and not use enhancers, even if they have become a minority. These people may be eliminated in the early rounds or even in the qualifying stages. Those who are wronged are likely to be people much closer to yours and my reality than the reality of those false champions created in the laboratories. When you decide to admire someone who makes use of these subterfuges, you are choosing as an example someone who wins by cheating.
I go back to giving the example of the person with financial success, because it is easy to understand, I admire those who conquer financial independence through honest work, even if their wealth is less than that person who achieved greater amounts, however dishonestly.
“I had to use it to keep up with the others”
If you understand that using it is illegal, that by using it your opponent is cheating, do you want to do the same as him? I understand that you might feel wronged, but is your response to this to become equal? If that's your justification, I don't think you think any differently than who uses it.
“You have to take into account that I am older and fighting against the new generations”
But the rule does not change according to age. There are categories for each age, if you choose to venture out with the younger ones, that doesn't give you the right to use enhancers. At least in championships that the rule prohibits it. It would be like signing up for a Jiu-Jitsu championship, being punished by knocking out my opponent with a punch and feeling wronged. NO, the rule is clear regarding the prohibition of punches, as well as the use of doping. If, due to age, the athlete is no longer able to face the younger ones, enter the category of the older ones or retire from competitions. Natural order.
In addition, the veteran who assumes the use, leaves in the air the doubt that if in fact he was not already using it since he was young. If there are championships that don't test, why don't they fight only those? No one is obliged to fight in the only federation that tests it, the IBJJF, even so, everyone wants to, because they know it is the most prestigious one.
The strategy is not a secret, they use it indiscriminately and seek the title and recognition by the IBJJF, if they are eventually caught in the weak test, they still enjoy the notoriety until the exam is released. They give more seminars, close sponsorships and are invited to compete in other paid events while they wait to pass the punishment deadline without fighting at the IBJJF. When it's over, they fight back and do it all over again. There are already athletes who have been caught more than once. They are not scared, as the punishment is not valid for other events and the number of people who still manage to defend it is alarmingly growing.
“But it's unfair to only test the champion”
This phrase is a smokescreen against the real problem. Of course, the ideal is to test everyone and with more efficient tests, but it is financially unfeasible for now. Faced with this fact and the fact that this is usually said when someone “gets caught”, the phrase becomes just a distraction. Better to test only the champion than nobody at all, just as it is better to arrest only one assailant than none at all. Can you imagine someone arguing that it is unfair to arrest just one robber because it is impossible to arrest everyone?
“There is no undue advantage, I just do hormone replacement”
an athlete told me trying to convince me. I was curious to understand better and I learned about it. In fact, there are some cases where hormone replacement is necessary, they are very specific cases or for much older people, over 65 years old. This black belt who told me that, a Brazilian champion in the adult category, saw absolutely nothing wrong with taking hormone replacement. As he was younger than me, I asked him at what age he had started and without any shame he said that at eighteen, only in doses to adjust the recommended levels. He was convinced that this was okay. I discovered that it is normal for athletes over thirty or forty who started using testosterone at a very young age to actually need to replace it, as the body stops producing it naturally. I cannot accept that these cases serve as excuses or justification for normalizing use.
“I've already been tested and I wasn't caught in doping”
is not the same thing as saying with all the words “I've never used prohibited substances, I'm against it and anyone who does is cheating”. Have you ever asked yourself why you haven't heard from the lips of some great champions the repudiation of those caught in doping? I'll give you a hint, it's for the same reason certain politicians don't celebrate the arrest of other corrupt politicians. Deep down, they're just thinking "Thank God" for not being the ones to get caught.
Ask these 3 questions to your sports idols:
1) Do you use or have you used any substance to improve performance?
2) Do you consider that whoever uses this is cheating?
3) In your opinion, should athletes who have already been caught in the anti-doping exam be banned from fighting all events?
If they stutters when they answers, you may be suspicious. Most don't have the courage to assume it, but some, on the other hand, are already no longer ashamed and trying to normalize the use.
In 2015, I heard a five-time black belt world champion, speaking at a crowded dinner table for anyone who would listen, so it shouldn't be a secret, the following statement: “The way the IBJJF tests, only on the day and with a urine test, only those who are very stupid are caught in doping. It is enough to use it accompanied by a good doctor who knows when to stop and that way the substance leaves the body before the test day, without disturbing the benefits during training”.
I trained with several teams, lived with several athletes. I've heard confessions of using it from their own mouth or even from their training partners. I'm not saying this because I want to point out a specific person, and I don't even need to, anyone in the field already knows, but I see the problem as being greater than accusing just one individual, I'm just saying this because I see that they're trying to normalize something that can't be accepted in Jiu-Jitsu. Its use has become banal and that scares me, but not as much as realizing that defending its use has been broad and open, not only by athletes, but also by practitioners who use it as a hobby. They lost the shame of defending doping and seeking justifications for it. Even among students who are not professional athletes, who sometimes do not even compete or only do it sporadically, are using it indiscriminately. I consider this a dangerous path.
It is possible to win fairly without enhancers. I speak not only based on my achievements, but also based on other champions I've seen rise to the top.
Think about which choice suits you best and think that, for those who use it, it must be horrible to go home, look at the medal table and wonder if they would have being able to win them without enhancers