T.J. Dillashaw Receives 2-Year USADA Suspension After Testing Positive for EPO

By Tristen Critchfield Apr 9, 2019


USADA came down twice as hard on T.J. Dillashaw as the New York State Athletic Commission did, handing the champion a two-year suspension for a failed drug test at UFC Brooklyn.

The UFC’s anti-doping body announced the sanction in a statement on Tuesday, revealing that Dillashaw tested positive for recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO). The banned substance is a synthetic hormone that increases the body’s production of red blood cells, which as a result improves oxygen transport and aerobic power.

Dillashaw is just the second UFC fighter to test positive for EPO under USADA jurisdiction. Lightweight veteran Gleison Tibau twice tested positive for the substance and was suspended for two years in 2015. Prior to the USADA era, Chael Sonnen and Ali Bagautinov were notable fighters to have been flagged for EPO use. Cycling star Lance Armstrong is perhaps the most-well known offender to have taken EPO in the athletic realm.

Dillashaw’s sanction is retroactive to Jan. 18, the date his sample was collected. The Duane Ludwig protege relinquished the bantamweight title after being informed by the New York State Athletic Commission of adverse findings in his drug testing at UFC Fight Night 143 in Brooklyn, N.Y. The NYSAC suspended Dillashaw for one year and fined him $10,000 but did not reveal the result of the test.

“We all know the pressures to win at all levels of all sport are real and intense,” said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart. “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.”

Dillashaw moved down to flyweight in an attempt to become a two-division champion at UFC Brooklyn. However, he suffered a 32-second technical knockout loss to reigning titlist Henry Cejudo in the evening’s headliner at the Barclays Center. Cejudo will square off against Marlon Moraes for the vacant 135-pound strap in the UFC 238 main event on June 8.

USADA’s statement regarding Dillashaw is as follows:

USADA announced today that TJ Dillashaw, of Yorba Linda, Calif., has accepted a two-year sanction for a violation of the UFC® Anti-Doping Policy after testing positive for a prohibited substance.

Dillashaw, 33, tested positive for recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) as the result of an in-competition urine sample he provided on January 18, 2019. rHuEPO is a synthetic hormone used to stimulate the body’s production of red blood cells, thereby increasing oxygen transport and aerobic power, and is a prohibited substance in the class of Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors, Related Substances, and Mimetics under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

“We all know the pressures to win at all levels of all sport are real and intense,” said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart. “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.”

Dillashaw’s two-year period of ineligibility, the standard sanction for a non-Specified Substance under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, began on January 18, 2019, the date his sample was collected.


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