Former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw was suspended for two years by USADA on Tuesday.
Longtime UFC commentator Joe Rogan is a fan of Dillashaw's fighting, but admitted on a recent podcast that there is no other way to characterize Dillashaw's positive drug test result for EPO, "This is just cheating. This isn't any accident."
USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) announced the news while revealing that Dillashaw tested positive for EPO, which is typically used in blood doping to help athletes for better endurance and conditioning. It's a drug that has been abused for years in the professional cycling and endurance athletics worlds.
EPO is one of the key substances that helped Lance Armstrong ride to seven Tour de France titles. Eventually exposed for his systematic approach to doping, Armstrong has since been banned from cycling for life.
As this was considered a first-time offense under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, Dillashaw received the maximum penalty of a two-year suspension and voluntarily relinquished the UFC bantamweight championship.
“To me, it’s a shame, too, because I’m a TJ fan,” Rogan said on his Wednesday podcast. “I think he’s a phenomenal fighter and I’m a big fan of watching him perform. But it taints his legacy. It just does. There’s no way around it.
"When you get caught cheating... this stuff, there’s no way it’s not cheating. This is just cheating. This isn’t any accident. It taints your legacy. The guy had an amazing legacy: two-time bantamweight champion, one of the best pound-for-pound fighters. The way he beat Renan Barao. I was like holy s--t.”
Having specifically tested positive for recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) – synthetic EPO – it was clear that the drug had to have been injected and couldn't have been caused by a tainted supplement, as so many athletes have claimed as a defense recently after testing positive for other banned substances.
Dillashaw has not issued a statement since the USADA ruling. A couple of his coaches have commented, condemning the use of banned substances, but supporting Dillashaw.
Joe Rogan still admires TJ Dillashaw's fighting ability
Similarly, Rogan still respects Dillashaw's abilities as a fighter, but can't deny the potential benefits that Dillashaw received from using EPO.
“It doesn't take away from the fact that he's amazing. TJ’s an amazing fighter, but f---, man,” Rogan continued. “To test positive for EPO in the Henry Cejudo fight. You’ve got to think, if you’re on EPO, how much does that allow you to train extra time? How much does it allow you to recover? What is the quantifiable benefit? It must be pretty significant. A lot of the cyclists, a lot of heavy duty endurance athletes use it. I almost want to try it.
"I think what it does is it raises your threshold if you're already an elite endurance athlete, too. They're already looking for that extra edge... then they take that EPO... it jacks them up, they can do more work. They don't run out of oxygen. They don't run out of juice. And for a guy like TJ, his style is so kinetic, so much movement, explosion. He needs that juice.
"It's crazy. It's a hard one to swallow."
What happens to the UFC bantamweight title following Dillashaw's suspension
Despite the advantages of EPO, Cejudo knocked Dillashaw out just 32 seconds into their UFC on ESPN+ 1 headlining bout in January, retaining his UFC flyweight championship. Cejudo will now face Marlon Moraes at UFC 238 in June to determine who will take Dillashaw's place as the bantamweight champion.
Meanwhile, Dillashaw will be forced to sit out for the next two years.
Following a pair of knockout wins over Cody Garbrandt, Dillashaw was considered arguably the best bantamweight fighter of all time. Now following this suspension for a doping violation, Dillashaw’s accomplishments will undoubtedly come under a tremendous amount of scrutiny.
Joe Rogan's dishes on TJ Dillashaw testing positive for EPO
(Courtesy of JRE Clips)