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Former UFC champion TJ Dillashaw suspended two years by USADA for testing positive for EPO

Dillashaw tested positive during an in-competition test on Jan. 18, 2019, one day before he challenged Henry Cejudo for the flyweight title at UFC Brooklyn.

UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw appears at a

UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw appears at a news conference in Brooklyn on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. Photo Credit: Newsday / Ryan Gerbosi

TJ Dillashaw, who last month vacated his UFC bantamweight title, has been suspended for two years after testing positive for a banned substance, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced Tuesday.

Dillashaw, 33, tested positive for recombinant human erythropoietin, more commonly known as EPO, during an in-competition test on Jan. 18, 2019, one day before he challenged Henry Cejudo for the flyweight title at UFC Brooklyn. Dillashaw has accepted his suspension, which is retroactive to the date of his positive test.

“We all know the pressures to win at all levels of all sport are real and intense,” USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said in a news release. “It is exactly why strong anti-doping efforts are necessary to protect clean athletes’ rights, health, and safety, and to ensure that those who do succumb to these pressures and decide to break the rules will be held accountable in a real and meaningful way, as in this case.”

USADA wrote in its news release that EPO is a prohibited substance because it’s a synthetic hormone that is used to stimulate production of red blood cells, which thereby increases oxygen transport and aerobic power.

Dillashaw relinquished his title on March 20 when he first announced that he had been informed of an “adverse finding” by USADA. He also then was suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission for one year and fined $10,000.

"To all my fans, I wanted to be the first one to let you know that USADA and the NYSAC have informed me of an adverse finding in a test taken for my last fight," Dillashaw wrote on Instagram then. "While words can't even begin to express how disappointed I am at this time, please know that I'm working with my team to understand what has occurred and how to resolve this situation as quickly as possible. Out of fairness and respect to the rest of my division, I've informed the UFC that I'll be voluntarily relinquishing my title while I deal with this matter. I want to thank all of you in advance for the support."

Dillashaw lost to Cejudo by TKO in 32 seconds.

The next bantamweight champion will be determined when Cejudo faces Marlon Moraes at UFC 238 in Chicago on June 8.

Dillashaw becomes the second fighter in the UFC to test positive for EPO since the promotion first partnered with USADA in 2015. Gleison Tibau, a lightweight fighter, was the first. He, too, received a two-year suspension, which is the maximum sentence for a nonspecified substance under the UFC's anti-doping program.

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