Drug Testing Makes its Way to Jiu-Jitsu Competition

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The United States Anti-Doping Agency will now test Jiu-Jitsu black belts in competition / Photo: USADA.org

The sport of Jiu-Jitsu is making big strides. The IBJJF has released a statement that they will begin testing for performance enhancing drugs at the 2013 IBJJF Pan American Championship. Teaming up with the United States Anti-Doping Agency, the quality of the athletes in the sport of Jiu-Jitsu will now be monitored for their integrity to the sport as clean athletes who choose to compete on a level playing field.

As the official anti-doping agency for the Olympics and Paralympics since October 2000, we can be sure that the most strict adherence to the procedures and Anti-Doping Code will be expected.

The testing will begin at the Pan American Championship at the Bren Event Center in Irvine, CA on March 20-24.

If you are a medalist in the black belt adult category, male or female,  you are eligible for the In-Competition testing process.

Due to the IBJJF’s contract with USADA, GRACIEMAG.com can offer all information known via statements made by the IBJJF and information available via USADA.org. Any questions regarding details specific to IBJJF competition will be made public as soon as it becomes available to us.

How will the athletes be chosen for testing?

The athletes to be tested will be chosen by random order such as 5th, 7th, 12th, 18th, etc. The total number to be tested will be ten (10), stemming from both male and female black belt adult categories.

What type of testing is used?

USADA tests with both urine and blood samples. The type of sample taken and the specific time of testing will be determined.

What substances are prohibited? 

The list of prohibited substances for In-Competition testing can be seen by clicking here.

What about substances like prescribed medications, over-the-counter medications, food additives, etc.?

Over-the-counter cold/flu medications will show positive due to specific ingredients you can find in the above link. Athletes should stop taking such medications several days before the competition.

Cannabinoids and THC substances should be avoided as these substances can be detected weeks after use. Despite the recent legalizations in Colorado and Washington, it is still a prohibited substance under USADA.

Nicotine and caffeine are not prohibited although they will be monitored.

For medications related to diseases or conditions, they are not prohibited as long as the athlete files a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).

Narcotics are prohibited although can be justified using a TUE. Be aware that poppy seeds hold a level of narcotic that may be read on the test so while a pastry with the substance may not trigger the test, it is best to avoid eating such foods within of 48 hours of the competition.

What is a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) and how do I apply?

A Therapeutic Use Exemption is used for athletes who have illnesses or diseases requiring medication. To apply, the athlete must submit the appropriate application as well as substantial medical justification 21 days before the competition. You can find out more or apply by clicking here.

How will athletes know if they have tested negative?

Athletes will be notified by the USADA through a letter.

What happens should an athlete test positive for any prohibited substance?

Athletes will be notified by the USADA through a letter. Should the result come back as an Atypical Finding, the B sample will be used to confirm and the USADA will provide further investigation should doping be indicated. All results will then be turned over to the Anti-Doping Review Board for review.

Can an athlete refuse to submit to drug testing?

If an athlete chosen for testing refuses to submit a sample, the athlete is committing an Anti-Doping Rule Violation and the athlete will be sanctioned. The level of consequence will be determined.

Please refer to www.USADA.org for more in-depth information regarding each process.


Ultimately, the move to drug testing has been made for the evolution of our sport. Jiu-Jitsu will continue to grow exponentially as evident by the number of competitors in the IBJJF Pan American Championship each year. For present and future athletes, we should maintain a level playing field that fosters respect for each other and the art itself. Remember that the values taught in the academy should not be lost on the competition mats.

What do you think of the new policy? What are your questions and concerns? Let us know in the comments below:



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