Former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw accepted a two-year suspension from USADA on Tuesday. Two of his main coaches have issued messages condemning Dillashaw's use of a banned substance, but also expressed their continued support.
"He is not the first nor will he be the last, but yes, it is inexcusable!" wrote coach Duane Ludwig on his Instagram page.
"People make mistakes, BUT he’s still my Ninja! 'He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.' Jesus Christ."
Dillashaw, according to USADA officials, tested positive for recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) as the result of an in-competition urine sample he provided on January 18, 2019. EPO is a synthetic hormone used to stimulate the body’s production of red blood cells, thereby increasing oxygen transport and aerobic power, and is a prohibited substance.
EPO is one of the key abused substances that was the downfall of condemned American cyclist and multi-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who was banned from his sport for life.
Dillashaw did not contest the suspension and he will not be eligible to return until after Jan. 18, 2021.
Dillashaw's coach at The Treigning Lab, Sam Calavitta, issued a lengthier statement, similarly condemning the use of a banned substance, but also refused to cast Dillashaw aside.
Sam Calavitta's statement on TJ Dillashaw:
"It is with a heavy heart that I, Coach Cal, the owner, founder, and purveyor of The Treigning Lab, have recently seen the defeat of one of our family members in recent months. This defeat is not due to the skills and combat savvy of an opponent of flesh, but rather a defeat at the perilous hands of a far more sinister foe; the demon of self doubt which haunts each and everyone of us at one time or another in our lives.
As a man of few words, preferring passion and belief as a shield to be carried out upon, I am bemused to careless and reckless dialog for no other purpose than to make myself heard among the masses plagued by willful ignorance. However, there is an appropriate, and even required time for the head of a family to speak out. And, this is such a time.
The Treigning Lab in no way condones or encourages our family of athletes, worldwide, to partake in the perilous downward spiraling helix of synthetic performance enhancement. To do so is not only harmful to the individual but also harmful to the brothers, sisters, and other family members who are judged guilty by association. Yet, the arena of public scrutiny is heavily weighted down with the enigma of fear for what it does not understand. To that end, the fact remains that The Treigning Lab, in concept and private practice established itself among Olympic and collegiate wrestlers in the year 2001 and has embarked on the life changing journey through sport with thousands of athletes spanning almost two decades of unparalleled excellence. We use quantitative analysis, metabolically accurate nutrition, proper supplementation, recovery facilitation, intelligence, and a training regiment of such high intensity that few have the wherewithal to imagine, much less would dare to embrace. In the same amount of time, our athletes have never failed a single mandated test, yet reside among the elite in each of their chosen sports; standing at the top of the podium of character and integrity.
The Treigning Lab was built upon the foundation of integrity, hard work, and most importantly family. So, in light of recent events The Treigning Lab and it’s affiliates would, first, like to thank USADA for upholding the standard of sterling athletic practices and offering tests to ensure the safety and fairness of competitive sports. That being said, we would also like to thank all those who have come forward at this time to show their genuine concern for all of our athletes, especially TJ Dillashaw, a fallen soldier on the battlefield of public expectation and demand for perfection. Although, not right, and inexcusable, TJ succumbed to the relentless pressure to win at any cost for the purposes of appeasing his employers, pleasing his fan base, and providing for his family; a sentiment that we all can relate to.
He has now accepted the repercussions of his decisions; and as such, it is our decision as The Treigning Lab family, to stand beside him in his journey forward."
Dillashaw will be forced to sit out for the next two years as a result of the positive drug test with a new bantamweight champion being crowned at UFC 238 when flyweight titleholder Henry Cejudo faces Marlon Moraes in the main event.
Cejudo knocked out Dillashaw in just 32 seconds at their fight in January, which is where Dillashaw's drug test that later returned to positive EPO result was administered.
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 scrutiny.
Garbrandt in particular wasted no time criticizing his former teammate.
"All of my losses are from fighters that have popped for PEDs," he wrote on Twitter. "I can stand behind this when I say I’ll always be a drug free athlete. #1 reason is the belief I have in myself. #2 I respect the game."
Garbrandt was backed by an unlikely source in former dual-division UFC champion Conor McGregor.
"Respect Cody! The loyalty you showed for Urijah and your team on that faithful day in the TUF gym will forever stand out to me!" McGregor tweeted. "Enjoy this moment and these returned victories to you! Clean and Unbeaten!"