5 BJJ Black Belts Face 3-Year IBJJF Suspension for Violating USADA Anti-Doping Rules

Five well-known jiu-jitsu black belts — Igor Feliz, age 24; Jonnatas Gracie, age 25; Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu, age 42; José Cardoso, age 29; and Vagner Rocha, age 40 — will be suspended from IBJJF competition for a period of three years, in light of USADA anti-doping violations, per a USADA press release published on March 8.

The suspensions arrive in the wake of anti-doping testing measures taken by USADA at No-Gi Worlds 2022. Feliz, Gracie, Abreu, and Cardoso all tested positive for banned substances, while Rocha reportedly refused a drug test from a USADA doping control officer — a violation for which Rocha also received a three-year suspension.

These highly-publicized anti-doping violations by extremely well-known athletes in the sport have spurred ample discourse from the jiu-jitsu community at large. An Instagram post published by FloGrappling detailing the reasoning behind the IBJJF suspension has garnered comments from multiple athletes weighing in. Legendary MMA and jiu-jitsu coach Hector Vasquez, for example, wrote in all caps, “EVERYONE IS ON STEROIDS,” with several other athletes and coaches chiming in to agree.

New Wave star Oliver Taza — who recently lost a Tezos WNO match by decision to an extremely pressure-heavy and positionally dominant Jonnatas Gracie — remarked, “Surprise, surprise.” When pressed in replies to his comment as to whether Taza believes he lost their match due to Gracie’s newly-revealed PED abuse, the New Wave athlete stated, “No, I made technical mistakes. If I thought his strength is what made all the difference I’d probably be juicing already.”

Multiple-time black belt world champion Victor Hugo expressed concern that a temporary ban from IBJJF competition might not dissuade other high-profile grappling promotions from inviting the disgraced athletes to compete on other shows. In the comments of the Instagram post, he wrote, “Question is: do they still get to compete at pro events like WNO and others even during suspension? Remembering that in a lot [of] cases, the title is what makes them legit enough to be invited to compete at those…”

Given recent high-profile jiu-jitsu victories from some of these offenders — notably Jonnatas Gracie’s win over betting favorite Oliver Taza just a few weeks ago — Hugo’s concern may hold water going forward.


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