Ex-UFC Champion TJ Dillashaw Suspended 2 Years for Anti-Doping Violation

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 9, 2019

FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2019 file photo, TJ Dillashaw reacts after a flyweight mixed martial arts championship bout against Henry Cejudo at UFC Fight Night in New York.  Dillashaw has surrendered the UFC 135-pound championship because of an “adverse finding” in his last drug test. Dillashaw posted on social media that he would give up the belt after he was informed by the New York State Athletic Commission and the United States Anti-Doping Agency of the results of his test leading up to his last fight in January.  Dillashaw suffered first-round loss to Henry Cejudo and failed to become a two-division champion. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw received a two-year suspension from USADA for violating the UFC's anti-doping policy. 

Marc Raimondi @marc_raimondi

USADA has suspended former UFC champion TJ Dillashaw two years for testing positive for the banned substance EPO. Just announced by the agency. https://t.co/y0vFauJJYp

USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart also released a statement on the ban (h/t Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com):

"We all know the pressures to win at all levels of all sport are real and intense. 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 tested positive for recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO) ahead of his Jan. 19 flyweight title fight against Henry Cejudo, which Cejudo won by first-round knockout.

"I'm quite familiar with EPO from my days investigating professional cycling teams," Jeff Novitzky, UFC vice president of athlete health and performance, said of the substance. "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."

Ben Fowlkes @benfowlkesMMA

I mean, T.J. Dillashaw kept insisting he could drop another ten pounds without his performance suffering as a result. And now he's been popped for EPO. That's some walking like a duck, talking like a duck stuff right there. https://t.co/odTNwgg10E

Luke Thomas @lthomasnews

TJ Dillashaw has accepted a two-year sanction from USADA. That is a back breaker for his career. Not an ender, but a major blow.

Brett Okamoto @bokamotoESPN

No comment yet from TJ Dillashaw's team. Obviously, a devastating blow to his legacy. We're living in a time where it seems like new information about contamination and "pulsing" surfaces every day, but EPO is a pretty damning thing to test positive for.

The New York State Athletic Commission also handed Dillashaw a one-year suspension, which he will serve during his USADA ban. He is not eligible to return to the Octagon until Jan. 18, 2021. He had already relinquished his bantamweight belt last month following the positive drug test.

Given his age and time away from elite competition, it will be a tall task for the 33-year-old Dillashaw to ever be a top contender again once he returns to action. His legacy will be forever changed by Tuesday's news.