BJJ phenom Mica Galvao fails drug test, stripped of 2022 IBJJF world title

Mica Galvao is no longer the youngest ever BJJ world champion.

By: Anton Tabuena | 2 months ago
BJJ phenom Mica Galvao fails drug test, stripped of 2022 IBJJF world title
Mica Galvao during his BJJ world title match against Tye Ruotolo

Mica Galvao faced off against Tye Ruotolo at the finals of the 2022 IBJJF World Championships, in an entertaining match between two teenage phenoms considered by most as the future of jiujitsu. Galvao won the contest by armbar, and at 18-years-old, became the youngest BJJ world champion in June 2022.

Unfortunately, after today’s news, he no longer holds that title or that distinction.

As USADA announced, Galvao, now 19, has failed a drug test for clomiphene. While other BJJ athletes that failed drug tests recently have been suspended for longer, Galvao will only get a one year suspension dating back to June 22, 2022 as USADA deemed the result due to a prescribed medication.

“After a thorough review of the case, including the examination of medical records provided by the athlete, USADA determined that Galvão’s positive test was caused by a medication prescribed in a therapeutic dose under the care of a physician,” the statement read. “Although the substance was taken at the direction of a physician, the Code requires that athletes obtain a TUE before using a prohibited substance, which Galvão failed to do.”

Mica Galvao is no longer the youngest IBJJF World Champion

Although Mica Galvao received a shorter suspension that will have him eligible to return by June 22, 2023 already, he didn’t obtain a therapeutic use exemption for the banned substance and will still be punished. Galvao will now forfeit “any medals, points, and prizes” from the 2022 IBJJF world championship.

Apart from a likely hit to his reputation, Galvao will also be stripped of his gold medal and world championship from the event. This will likely mean that silver medalist and fellow teenage phenom Tye Ruotolo will be awarded the gold medal and now be considered as the youngest ever IBJJF World Champion.

Watch their entertaining scrap below, which will likely be just one of many times they will face off in the next few years.

It’s also worth noting how Tye’s twin brother, Kade Ruotolo beat Mica Galvao at the finals of the 2022 ADCC World Championships to continue this fun rivalry between these elite level youngsters.

PED culture in BJJ

Galvao isn’t the only jiujitsu champion in the middle of a drug test controversy. Five other champions and BJJ stars recently failed drug tests after being tested for the 2022 No Gi World Championships.

IBJJF seems to be the only organization testing athletes in jiujitsu right now, but even then, they typically only test during the day of the event, and only test the gold medalist — or both finalists at the most. It might be more accurate to call it a PED culture than a “problem” in the sport, with many of the biggest stars and most accomplished athletes — like Gordon Ryan and others — being open with taking performance enhancing drugs.

BJJ champs Cyborg Abreu and Vagner Rocha were unapologetic after testing positive, with both being open to hormone replacement therapy use, and the former slamming IBJJF for its pay scale.

“So basically we are competing for the fun at IBJJF, not getting (paid) like UFC for instance, while None of THE PROFESSIONAL EVENTS ARE TESTING,” Cyborg wrote. “In my opinion if IBJJF wants to take it seriously and wants to make it professional as they say, it’s ok, test everyone, adults and master division. Make it fair to everyone and start paying to make it professional. Otherwise people will have to choose, on being able to compete and perform at a professional level or compete at IBJJF.”

As Cyborg mentioned, PED’s are basically legal anywhere else, especially in pro jiujitsu events that pay good money, and with even ADCC openly saying they won’t test.

“You keep that [USADA] for the IBJJF,’ ADCC head organizer Mo Jassim said. “I get that some people don’t like that, I respect it. But it’s not happening anytime soon.”

BJJ’s popularity is on the rise, with many professional organizations coming up and providing options for talent. So unless every major organization follows suit and tests, which won’t seem to be the case soon, many of the accomplished stars will likely just avoid IBJJF and continue competing in other organizations that get them paid.

This poses an interesting question as the sport and its pro circuit continues to grow. If more and more of the top talent avoids them, can the meaning and prestige of IBJJF titles continue to hold its value?

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About the author
Anton Tabuena
Anton Tabuena

Anton Tabuena is the Managing Editor for Bloody Elbow. He’s been covering MMA and combat sports since 2009, and has also fought in MMA, Muay Thai and kickboxing.

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