Exploratory study on illegal pharmacologic agents in mixed martial arts performance

Ciro José Brito, Rayssa Lodi Moser, Erasmo Montes Assis de Bem, Pedro Henrique Berbert de Carvalho, Andreia Cristiane Carrenho Queiroz, Fábio dal Bello, Lindsei Brabec Mota Barreto, Bianca Miarka


Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a combat sport that requires maximum physical effort during competitions. In this context, some athletes can use illicit substances in order to improve their performance. By means of paired analysis, the present study compared the motor actions of athletes who had failed an anti-doping test versus their performance in combat against a winner or loser without doping presence. For this, 267 rounds (male and female) were analyzed in professional matches. The rounds were paired by athletes in the conditions: doping, winning and losing. Motor actions were analyzed through a specific and previously-validated protocol. Of the substances detected, anabolic androgenic steroids represented 55% (p≤0.001). Doped athletes had lower pause time (83.4±68.3 vs. 131.7±95.2, p≤0.001) and longer time at high-intensity (85.2±86.6 vs. 51.2±73.3, p=0.002) compared to the losing condition. Regarding the technical-tactical analysis in standing combat, winning presented a higher mean compared to doping in all variables except for Knockdowns (p=0.08), single body strikes landed (p=0.15), single leg strikes landed (p=0.25) and single strike attempts (p=0.4). In conclusion, athletes who tested positive presented higher performance in the physical variables (effort and pause time) in comparison to the losing condition; however, doping did not reflect in better technical-tactical performance.


Athletic performance; Doping in sports; Martial arts; Time motion studies

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5007/1980-0037.2018v20n3p269

The abbreviated title of the journal is Rev. Bras. Cineantropom. Desempenho Hum, which should be used in bibliographies, footnotes and bibliographical references. E-ISSN 1980-0037, impressa ISSN 1415-8426, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.