BREAKING | USADA suspends TJ Dillashaw for EPO use

TJ Dillashaw
Image: UFC on Instagram

Last month, we learned that former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw had failed an in-competition drug test surrounding his UFC Brooklyn flyweight title fight with Henry Cejudo. Dillashaw broke this news himself, announcing that he was being investigated by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), and that he was relinquishing the UFC bantamweight strap as a result.

On Tuesday afternoon, ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported that the substance detected on the TJ Dillashaw test in question was recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO), and that Dillashaw has received a two-year suspension as a result. This suspension is dated retroactively to January 18, 2019, meaning TJ Dillashaw can fight again on the same day in 2021. Dillashaw reportedly didn’t contest this verdict.

“We all know the pressures to win at all levels of all sport are real and intense,” said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart in a statement released ESPN. “It is exactly why strong anti-doping efforts are necessary to protect clean athletes’ rights, health and safety and to ensure that those who do succumb to these pressures and decide to break the rules will be held accountable in a real and meaningful way, as in this case.”

UFC vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky also commented on this situation, deeming EPO use one of the worst offences in terms of anti-doping. He also stated that EPO cannot be taken accidentally, as it must be injected.

“I’m quite familiar with EPO from my days investigating professional cycling teams,” he told ESPN. “It’s a very effective substance. It’s not a substance you find in contaminated supplements, it’s injectable only. You have to know what you’re doing when it enters your system.

“On a scale of seriousness in anti-doping, it’s up near the top.”

Stay tuned for further updates on this TJ Dillashaw situation should further details emerge.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 4/9/2019.