Former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw has been handed a two-year suspension from The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for testing positive for EPO.
Dillashaw was flagged by USADA following a failed drug test surrounding his failed flyweight title challenge against Henry Cejudo at UFC Fight Night 141 on January 19th. The 33-year old was temporarily banned from competition and voluntarily vacated his 135 lbs championship following the positive result but USADA has now given a ruling on his suspension.
“We all know the pressures to win at all levels of all sport are real and intense,” USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said in a statement. “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.”
Speaking to ESPN, USADA spokesperson Adam Woullard also revealed that the agency re-tested a December 28th sample from Dillashaw which also produced a positive result for EPO. EPO was originally not found in Dillashaw’s December 28th sample as the drug needs a specific test for the substance to be found.
ESPN would also speak to the UFC’s vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitsky concerning Dillashaw’s failed test.
“I’m quite familiar with EPO from my days investigating professional cycling teams,” Novitzky said. “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.”
Dillashaw has yet to comment on his suspension.