T.J. Dillashaw released a video statement Friday on Instagram, apologizing following the news of his two-year USADA suspension.
Earlier this week, USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner, announced that Dillashaw tested positive for the prohibited substance EPO and would be ineligible to compete until January 2021. Dillashaw relinquished his UFC bantamweight title last month when news broke that he failed a drug test and was being suspended one year by the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC).
In the video statement released Friday, Dillashaw seemed to own up to taking EPO, a drug that can increase performance and endurance.
“I messed up,” Dillashaw said. “I’m having a hard time trying to forgive myself for this, which I should have a hard time. i should have a hard time forgiving myself. … I understand the criticism and the scrutiny coming my way.”
Dillashaw, 33, said he has “gotta man up” to what he did. The California native said he accepted all penalties from USADA and “didn’t try to fight this thing.” Dillashaw has also been fined $10,000 by the NYSAC.
Dillashaw said he plans to return in 2021 better than before. He said he had surgery on his right shoulder Thursday and is planning surgery on his left shoulder soon. Dillashaw said he’s been dealing with a torn rotator cuff and labrum for years.
People have said he should “disappear” following the failed drug test, Dillashaw said, but he won’t do that. He said he owes it to his 15-month-old son to face this head on and show him how to own up to his mistakes.
“It’s been weighing on me,” Dillashaw said. “Not to say it shouldn’t. It’s who I am, I’m a fighter. I’m gonna fight my way through this one.”
Dillashaw apologized to his fans, family, coaches and teammates for what he said was a “mistake” and “bad decision.”
“This won’t be the end of me, I’ll be back,” Dillashaw said. “I’m making you the promise right now that I’ll be back better, be back stronger. And I’ll prove that the hard work I put in got me where I’m at and not the bad decision that I made. All I can do to redeem myself is work hard.”
Dillashaw (16-4) is a two-time former UFC bantamweight champion. He failed in his attempt to gain the flyweight title, losing to Henry Cejudo in January via first-round TKO. It was the in-competition drug test relating to that fight in which Dillashaw came up positive for EPO. USADA has since gone back to a previous Dillashaw sample taken Dec. 28 and found EPO in that, as well.
Prior to the last few months, Dillashaw was regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world.