TJ Dillashaw admits he “would have been able to justify” EPO use if he’d never been caught

TJ Dillashaw
Image: TJ Dillashaw on Instagram

TJ Dillashaw says he would have been able to “justify” his use of the banned substance Erythropoietin (EPO) if he’d become a two-division UFC champ.

In early 2018, Dillashaw, then the UFC bantamweight champion, dropped down to flyweight to challenge divisional champ Henry Cejudo in a bid to become a two-division titleholder. After losing the fight via first-round TKO, Dillashaw tested positive for the injectable-only banned substance EPO, and was stripped of his title and suspended two years as a result.

After testing positive for EPO, Dillashaw admitted that he used the drug to help manage his brutal weight-cut down to the 125-pound flyweight limit.

As Dillashaw’s suspension draws to a close, and his return to the Octagon approaches, he sat down with Brett Okamoto of ESPN, the official broadcast partner of the UFC. When asked how he would have felt if he’d defeated Cejudo and never been caught for using EPO, Dillashaw was undeniably honest.

“With the way my brain works—I just gave you an example of how me dealing with the last two years and what I’ve had to do to trick myself into being positive about it no matter what—you kind of have to trick yourself into doing it,” Dillashaw said. “I probably would have done the same thing.

“At first I would have been guilty about it, but I was to the point where I probably should have just not taken the fight to be honest,” Dillashaw continued. “Actually I know I shouldn’t have taken the fight—but I probably would have done the same. I’m going to be honest with you, just like I’ve been with everything. I probably would have done the same. I probably would have been like ‘ah, I had to do it, it was something my body wasn’t letting me do, I wasn’t able to make the weight.’

“So yes, I did take something I wasn’t supposed to, and if I went and saw a doctor, he would have prescribed it to me, but that doesn’t give me an excuse to take it. I’m a professional athlete, I know I wasn’t allowed to take it, but I would have made that excuse to myself. I would have been able to justify it, how f**ked up that is.”

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