After relinquishing his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight title and being handed a two-year suspension by United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA), T.J. Dillashaw was upfront and admitted to purposely taking Erythropoietin (EPO).
Indeed, Dillashaw took the banned substance in the lead up to his Flyweight title fight against division champion, Henry Cejudo, at UFC on ESPN+1 this past January, which he lost via first round knockout (see it again here). And while Dillashaw is adamant there is no excuse for him doing what he did, he took the time to explain to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani what pushed him to make the poor decision.
“I took an anemia medication called Procrit, which the main ingredient in it was Erythropoietin (EPO). It helps rebuild blood cells,” he said. “When you become anemic, your red blood cells start to plummet and you lose energy. I was on a super strict 1,600-calorie per day diet and working too hard. I pushed my body to extreme limits,” added Dillashaw.
“No excuses. I made the mistake of wanting to do something that hadn’t been done. I sold my soul to the devil and now I got to build myself back up and deal with it.”
Dillashaw revealed that he took the substance “three or four weeks” out from the fight after he realized the struggle to make the weight was getting too difficult.
“I was getting down to that bare minimum weight where everything was affecting me. I didn’t want to wake up and train in the morning. I had to lose a bunch more weight and I didn’t want to go to the gym, I didn’t want to run and didn’t want to do what I had to do,” he said, while revealing he took the banned substance immediately after being drug tested.
“I got drug tested and I decided I would be able to be clear until the fight, then I fucked up and made that decision. Like I said, I wanted to make it to the fight, I wanted to do something that was unheard of and I let it get the best of me.”
Dillashaw reiterated the fact that no one on his team knew what he was doing. Looking back at it, however, “Viper” says he wished someone knew about it because he knows that his coaching staff would have talked him out of it.
At the end of the day, Dillashaw says not hiding or denying his transgressions is something he’s really proud of, understanding that the criticism he has received is warranted.
“I have been as up front as possible with everything. I have admitted to it, and it almost seems as if it’s been a little bit harder at first. I relinquished the belt before any kinds of decisions were made by USADA, I admitted to it and I wanted to put it behind me,” he said.
“I made a mistake and what I have been taught is that you handle it straight on instead of continuing to hide from it or run from it and now I am moving past it.”
Seven months into his suspension, Dillashaw has a long way to go before he can return to action, as he won’t be eligible to compete until Jan. 2021. And when he does come back, the 135-pound weight class will be a bit more stacked with the additions of Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo.