It has been nearly three months since TJ Dillashaw relinquished the UFC bantamweight championship after having tested positive for a banned substance. He finally broke his silence, admitting to having cheated in preparation for his January 2019 bout with Henry Cejudo.
Dillashaw held the bantamweight title entering the fight with Cejudo, who was the UFC flyweight champion. He wanted nothing more than to become a dual-division champion, proclaiming to the world that he could easily drop to 125 pounds and take the belt from the Olympic Gold Medalist.
The problem for Dillashaw was that his body disagreed. He couldn’t make the drop as easily as he thought and it ravaged his body to the point he didn’t feel like training for the fight. He was tired, lethargic, not at all himself. So he took the only way he could find to try and get himself back on form.
“First and foremost, I cheated,” Dillashaw said while on a recent episode of You’re Welcome with Chael Sonnen. “I don’t want to create any excuses. I wanted to drop the weight class. I wanted to go down one weight class to 125 pounds and I played it off on how easy it was gonna be.
“I pushed my body to the extreme. About six weeks out, my body started to crash, it started to get tired. My hematocrit was crashing. I was on the verge of becoming anemic. I decided to take something I wasn’t allowed to take. It’s called ProCrit. It would help me not only make the weight, but to be myself.”
ProCrit is a medication often used to help people with anemia. The active ingredient is Erythropoietin or EPO, which is a substance that has often been used in the professional cycling world as a performance enhancer. It is one of the main substances that led to former multiple-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong being banned from the sport for life.
Dillashaw relayed that his blood levels bordered on him becoming anemic, which would account for his being so wiped out. He also said that when he used EPO, it basically brought him back in line with his normal levels, not something beyond what is naturally occurring in the human body.
The only problem with that is it is still a banned substance. For that, he makes no excuses.
“I cheated. I got caught,” Dillashaw continued. “It is hard not to hate yourself a little bit.”
Dillashaw said that the hardest part of the situation for him has been having the decision he made cast a dark cloud over his family and his team, whom he said had no knowledge of what he was doing.
After he was caught, Dillashaw was issued a two-year suspension by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which administers the UFC Anti-Doping Policy. The suspension is retroactive to the Cejudo fight, which took place on Jan. 19, 2019. He will be eligible to return after Jan. 19, 2021, and fully intends to return.
“I”ll have to come back and prove myself,” said Dillashaw.
“I will come back. I will be champion again.”