TJ Dillashaw Opens Up About Intentionally Cheating, Explains His Decision

TJ Dillashaw opens up
Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
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Former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw has given his first in-depth interview since his Untied States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) suspension.

Dillashaw tested positive for the banned substance EPO and was subsequently handed a two-year suspension. “The Viper” was very open from the jump about intentionally using the substance, despite knowing it was banned. Now, he has explained his decision to do so in a recent interview with former multi-time UFC title challenger, and current Bellator fighter, Chael Sonnen.

The pair discussed the matter on Sonnen’s podcast, “You’re Welcome,” and Dillashaw explained that his cut down to 125 pounds for his flyweight title fight against Henry Cejudo was the reason he decided to take EPO. His body started to crash during the weight cut, and Dillashaw needed to re-energize himself, as he was losing motivation to go to the practice room:

“I’ve hidden out, I haven’t done any interviews, I haven’t done – I’ve just kind of hidden away from – there’s things I’ve been wanting to say, but I didn’t, because I don’t want to create any excuses,” Dillashaw said. “Let’s start off, first and foremost, I cheated. I don’t want to run around that, that’s why even I announced it when USADA was coming out. I didn’t want to create excuses.

It was like, look, this is it, I did it, I want to be upfront with you guys. I didn’t want to create any excuses of why I did it, I knew eventually I would talk about it, and this is now, it’s the first time I have. I was so into doing something that has never been done before. Not the two champs. Obviously, I wanted that more than anything, I wanted to prove I’m the best in the world, but was also to drop that weight class. I’m a lean 135’er. I wanted to drop the weight class to go to the 125s, and I played it off to how easy it was going to be. “I can do this, no problem, I always cut weight.”

And I pushed my body to the extreme. About six weeks out, my body started to crash, I started to get tired, I started feeling I didn’t want to wake up for practice. I test everything. I test my hair for toxins, I test my saliva for hormone levels – I want to be the most optimized athlete I possibly can. And I started crashing.”

Dillashaw then divulged he took Procrit, an anemia medication that would help him make weight for the contest. Interestingly, Dillashaw said he’s not mad he actually took the banned substance, as he wouldn’t have been able to fight without it. However, he is owning up to the fact that he cheated, and that in of itself has taken a toll on him:

“I decided to take something I knew I wasn’t allowed to take,” Dillashaw admitted. “It’s called Procrit, it’s an anemia medication that would help me, not only make the weight, but be myself. And, you know, I’m not mad I did it, because I don’t think I could’ve taken the fight. I’m obviously going to own up that I cheated, I got caught – it’s a rough one man. It’s hard not to hate yourself a little bit. To – I don’t know. It’s a tough one.”