How To Spot A Steroid User In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

How To Spot A Steroid User In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu


Whether we like it or not steroids and performance enhancing drugs are very present in BJJ competitions world wide. In the years that I’ve been training BJJ (all over the world) I have seen team mates, friends and acquaintances take PEDs in build ups for competitions or just for regular training. Some will hide it and never admit it openly, and some will openly talk about without any shame. Availability of PED’s also plays a big part. In Western Europe they are harder to come by and are more expensive. In Eastern Europe, and a lot of developing countries you can buy some kind of form of PED over the counter and for a fraction of the price. For ex: here in Serbia, you can buy testosterone at any regular pharmacy for a few euros and no questions asked.

We all know the dangerous side effects of PEDs on the body, so if somebody wants to ruin their health for the sake of some possible athletic advantage, it’s their choice (or problem). The problem is that BJJ competitions don’t test for PEDs (IBJJF tested once during the Pans in 2014 and only for 10 black belts) so on paper, it’s not against the rules in BJJ.

I’ve rolled with a lot of steroid users throughout the years. I just want to say that I’m 100% against it. My stance is that if you’re using, it means that somewhere you doubt in your capabilities and are mentally weaker. Like the great wrestler Dan Gable said:

“Besides the health effects, what you lose when you use steroids is mental toughness. The key to victory is that the strongest mind wins. You can get physical strength with steroids, but you lose the mental toughness (you would have gained) from brutal hard work.”

In my experience of rolling with steroid users during the years, this is what I’ve noticed: you notice huge differences in their performance and bodies during their cycles. The same guy can have amazing super human strength, and a abnormally ripped body (I’m talking about a 100kgs guy with a 8 pack of abs and veins popping out all over the place) when he is at his peak and fast forward a few months down the line and he is a completely different person. No strength, no reaction time, no reflexes, gassing out. These kind of extreme changes do not happen when someone is clean. another sign is that those same people often have some ‘health problems’ that take them in and out of the hospital on regular basis. Increased jaw line, thicker fingers, and of course acne outbreaks on face or body for an adult, means that something isn’t right there. I knew a guy that was on the juice and had such bad acne breaks on his back that all the blood would go through his gi and stain it all over…


This article will showcase what are telling signs that someone you train with, compete against or that you know may be on some form of PED. This doesn’t mean that they are for sure on steroids but if if they fit pretty much all of these points, then they most likely are. Remember we are not talking about creatine, protein powder or other legel supplements here. We’re talking about steroids, injections etc…

Back Acne

Back Acne

steroidabuse.com being experts in the subjects have set up a list of  signs that can help to spot a steroid user:

Physical changes are typically the most pronounced short-term symptoms as they are not easily concealed by the novice user and include:

  • Acne is a common side effectUnusually greasy hair or oily skin (often with stretch marks on the inner joints)
  • Small red or purplish acne, including breakouts on the shoulders and back
  • Gynocomastia, the abnormally excessive development of the breast tissue in males
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Thinning hair throughout the head or receding hairline (male pattern baldness)
  • Increased length and thickness in hair (on body parts other than the head)
  • Hair loss in bed, shower, comb or brush
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin; this signals liver damage
  • Skin eruptions and infections, such as abscesses and cysts
  • Drastic appetite shifts (extreme hunger or lessened/loss of appetite)
  • Joint pain; greater chance of injuring muscles and tendons
  • Disrupted sleep patterns (not sleeping well or sleeping too much)
  • Fluid level changes, bloating (face & body), and night sweating
  • Dizziness, trembling, nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid or progressive weight gain
  • Increased muscle size (sudden or progressive)
  • Hyperactivity or lethargy (too little energy)
  • Trouble urinating; discoloration or blood in urine
  • Rare and occasional side effects
  • Steroid abusers often experience mood swings

Personality and Psychiatric changes often happen suddenly and without visible triggers or reasons. They include:

  • Extreme mood swings
  • Increased aggression or irritability
  • Becomes disrespectful or abusive (verbally and/or physically)
  • Poor decision making stemming from feelings of invincibility
  • Becomes secretive and/or starts lying
  • Withdraws from family members
  • Depression (usually when steroids are discontinued)
  • Hallucinations – seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
  • Paranoia – extreme feelings of mistrust or fear

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