There are a lot of takeaways from T.J. Dillashaw’s recent positive drug test that cost him two years of his career but if nothing else it should serve as a cautionary tale to every fighter currently occupying a spot on the UFC roster.
Less than six months ago, Dillashaw was hailed as arguably the greatest bantamweight fighter of all time with a chance to become a two-division champion on the horizon as he prepared to move down to 125 pounds to challenge for the flyweight strap.
Now Dillashaw will have to sit out until 2021 after using EPO prior to his 32-second knockout loss to Henry Cejudo in January.
“There’s a couple things to say. No. 1, I’m not in this position to rub salt in the wounds. T.J. is now suspended for two years, which I think is very significant,” UFC vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky said about Dillashaw when speaking to the UFC Unfiltered podcast. “He’s definitely taking a beating publicly. I do think there is something to be said about admitting right away a wrongdoing and guilt, which he did very quickly here.
“Hopefully other fighters see that and say hey we’re not fooling around with this program, it doesn’t matter where you fall on the UFC roster, whether you’re a current champion or a former champion or your first fight in the UFC, everybody is treated equally and anyone runs afoul of the program, they’re going to be sanctioned accordingly.”
When Dillashaw initially tested positive and faced a one-year suspension from the New York State Athletic Commission, he made a statement revealing partial information about his doping case and relinquished the UFC bantamweight title.
Following the USADA release that he tested positive for EPO and had been suspended for two years, Dillashaw released a second statement apologizing for his wrongdoing and accepting fault for his mistake.
“I’ve dealt with hundreds of athletes that have used, have got caught red-handed and not everybody has done what T.J. has done,” Novitzky said. “Others will deny it to their grave.”
More than anything else surrounding this latest high profile doping case, Novitzky says that it’s proof that the program is working and that’s vital considering the physicality in a sport such as mixed martial arts.
“This sport and this is why I love this sport so much and feel so proud of what we’re doing here,” Novitzky explained. “The importance of anti-doping in this sport far outweighs any other sport in the world, in my opinion, in my experience.”