clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

T.J. Dillashaw opens up on failed drug test: ‘It’s hard not to hate yourself a little a bit’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw admitted that “it’s hard not to hate yourself a little bit” while discussing his two-year suspension from the United States Anti-Doping Agency for the first time.

Appearing on Chael Sonnen’s You’re Welcome podcast, Dillashaw claimed that it had been hard to show his face in public while cornering his teammate Juan Archuleta for his Bellator 222 bout on the back of his failed test and subsequently vacating his UFC title.

“It’s been the darkest time of my life and it’s been the best,” Dillashaw told Sonnen. “Like I said, I have a 17-month old son and that’s been a great distraction for me. Thank goodness for him, you know, because it’s been tough for me, man. It’s been tough for me to be downstairs with Juan and show my face. It’s been a tough go.”

“Yeah of course [it was difficult to show up to the Bellator 222 press conference]. I mean, I’ve hidden out. I haven’t done any interviews, I haven’t done…I’ve just kind of hidden away from it. There have been things I’ve wanted to say, but I didn’t because it didn’t want to create excuses.”

Dillashaw admitted that he cheated and claimed that his cut down to flyweight to face Henry Cejudo forced the decision to take an illegal substance as his body began to shut down six weeks out from the January title fight.

“First and foremost, I cheated. I don’t want to runaround that — that’s why I announced it even when USADA was coming out. I didn’t want to create any excuses, I was like, ‘Look, this was it.’ I did it, I want to be up front with you guys. I didn’t want to create any excuses about why I did it. I knew eventually I would talk about it and this is now, this is the first time I have,” Dillashaw said.

“I was so into doing something that was never done before. Not the two champs, obviously I wanted that more than anything, I wanted to prove I was the best in the world, but it was also to drop down to that weight class. I’m a lean 135er. I wanted to drop the weight class to go to the 125’s, and I played it off on how easy it was going to be. ‘I can do this, no problem, I always cut weight.’ I pushed my body to the extreme. About six weeks out, my body started to crash it started to get tired. I started feeling like I didn’t wanna wake up for practice.”

After he discovered that his hematocrit level was down —the ratio of the volume of red blood cells to the total volume of blood— he decided to take a substance called Procrit, which he knew was banned.

“I test everything; I test my hair for toxins, I test my saliva for my hormone levels. I want to be the most ultimate athlete I can and I started crashing. I tested my hematocrit and I was down in the 30’s, which I normally walk around with around 45. I was down in the 30’s, the high 30’s, but I was on the verge of being anemic,” he explained.

“I decided to take something I wasn’t allowed to take. It was called Procrit, it’s an anemia medication that would not only help me make the weight, but would also allow me to be myself. 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 and I got caught.”

Dillashaw maintained that it was hard to deal with the dip in public opinion he received on the back of the failed test.

“It’s a rough one, man,” Dillashaw said. “It’s hard not to hate yourself a little a bit, you know…it’s a tough one.”

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting