Former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw accepted full responsibility for a two-year doping suspension on Friday, saying his team knew nothing about his use of EPO ahead of a flyweight title fight against Henry Cejudo in January.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) suspended Dillashaw, 33, through Jan. 18, 2021, earlier this week, and revealed he tested positive for EPO on Dec. 28 of last year and Jan. 18. Dillashaw did not contest the two-year suspension and admitted Friday he attempted to cheat.
"I messed up," Dillashaw said in an Instagram post. "I've been having a hard time forgiving myself for this, which I should have a hard time. I understand the criticism that is going to be coming my way -- what I really feel bad about is any kind of bad light I brought about my coaches, my family and my teammates. They had no involvement in this.
"I've got to man up to what I did. I've accepted the penalties. I'm going to sit for the next two years. Jan. 18, 2021, is when I'm allowed to come back."
Dillashaw (16-4) did not offer any apology to Cejudo, who knocked him out in the first round of that 125-pound title fight. Nor did he offer any apology to any previous opponent. Cody Garbrandt, a former teammate turned rival of Dillashaw, has been publicly critical of Dillashaw in recent days. Dillashaw knocked Garbrandt out twice, in 2017 and 2018.
Dillashaw has been considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, even after his first-round loss to Cejudo. He revealed in his social media post he has dealt with torn rotator cuffs in both of his shoulders and will undergo surgery on each injury. He promised to return to the sport better than before.
"People tell me I should just disappear and let this stuff die out for two years, but I don't think that's the way to handle this thing," Dillashaw said. "I want to show my son when you make a mistake, face it to its face. Trust me, I'd love to run away and hide in a cave for two years.
"This won't be the end of me. I'll be back. I'll make a promise now, I'll be back better and stronger. I'll prove the hard work I put into this is what got to me where I'm at. Not the bad decisions I made. All I can do is redeem myself, work harder and be better. And I will."