Former UFC Champion T.J. Dillashaw Releases Statement on EPO Use, Suspension: “I Messed Up”

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UFC Brooklyn TJ Dillashaw Henry Cejudo UFC 238
Credit: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Disgraced former UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw has released a statement owning up to his doping suspension, and insisting that his team and coaches had no knowledge of his actions.

T.J. Dillashaw has broken his silence over the failed drug test for EPO that ultimately saw him lose his UFC bantamweight championship. Dillashaw (16–4), who lost to Henry Cejudo at UFC Brooklyn in January in a failed bid to claim a second title, at flyweight, released a video statement to Instagram Friday addressing his performance enhancing drug use.

“I messed up,” Dillashaw began. “I’m having a hard time trying to forgive myself for this. Which I should have a hard time. I should have a hard time forgiving myself.”

Dillashaw’s drug test failure first came to light in March, when the bantamweight announced he was relinquishing the UFC’s 135lb title following a positive drug test. Dillashaw did not provide specifics about the test, but soon enough, USADA announced a two-year suspension for the fighter. Shockingly, the substance Dillashaw was caught using, EPO, was the very same that rival Cody Garbrandt had accused him of taking a year prior.

“I understand the criticism and the scrutiny coming my way. But what I really feel bad about is the bad light I’m bringing on my coaches, my family, my teammates. They had no involvement in this and I feel the worst for them,” Dillashaw continued in his video statement. Citing the need to be a role model to his 15 month old son, Dillashaw said that “I accepted all penalties – I didn’t try to fight this thing. I’m going to sit for the next two years.”

In reality, there is likely little else the fallen champion could have done. EPO is not the type of drug that would be of any benefit to a supplement, taking the possibility of a tainted substance out of the equation. It’s a costly drug, and an injectable. Dillashaw would obviously have had knowledge of getting any shot, so he was left with little defense.

Now, the fighter says he will focus on healing. “As of January 18, 2021 is when I’m allowed to come back. I had shoulder surgery yesterday [April 11, 2019] on my right shoulder. Two months later, I’m getting my left one done. I’ve had torn rotator cuffs and labrums for the last two and a half years I’ve been dealing with – it’ll be nice to get those healed up before I come back.”

Saying he didn’t believe that simply disappearing from sight was the correct way to handle things, Dillashaw said he wanted to show his son that when you make a mistake, you “face it to its face.”

“Trust me, I’d love to run away and go hide in a cave the next two years and continue to grow out this sh*tty beard,” he added. “But it’s been weighing on me, and it should. This is who I am. I’m a fighter. I’ve got to fight my way through this one.”

He finished with an apology. “I want to apologize to my fans, anyone I’ve let down. Obviously my family, my coaches and my teammates. I can’t say sorry enough for the stuff you’re dealing with because of me. But this won’t be the end of me. I’ll be back and I’m making you a promise now that I’ll be back better, I’ll be back stronger, and I’ll prove the hard work I’ve done is what got me where I’m at and not the bad decision that I made. That’s all I can do. All I can do to redeem myself is work hard. I’ll be better. I want to be better and I will.”

You can watch Dillashaw’s full statement below.

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Editor at Cageside Press, Jay has been covering the sport of mixed martial arts for several years. His work has appeared on The MMA Corner, What Culture, Cage Pages, MMA News, Today's Knockout, and Fox Sports (via Fansided). Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.

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