Tuesday's revelation that T.J. Dillashaw tested positive for recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO) ahead of his UFC Brooklyn bout against Henry Cejudo may have tainted his legacy beyond repair.
It is unlikely that Dillashaw will be able to use the tainted supplement or unintentional ingestion defense in this instance. As a result of the failed test, Dillashaw has been suspended two years retroactive to January 2019. He relinquished his belt last month when the New York State Athletic Commission initially reported adverse findings in his in-competition sample.
It appears that Dillashaw’s team, while still standing behind the fighter, is not condoning the violation. Both head coach Duane Ludwig and strength and conditioning coach Sam Calavitta recently released statements calling Dillashaw’s positive test for EPO, a synthetic hormone that increases the production of red blood cells to improve oxygen transport and aerobic power, “inexcusable.”
“He is not the first nor will he be the last but yes it is inexcusable,” Ludwig recently wrote on Instagram. “People make mistakes but he is still my ninja.”
Calavitta, meanwhile, is the strength and conditioning coach at The Treigning Lab in California, where Dillashaw has been working since prior to his rematch with Cody Garbrandt at UFC 227. In a much lengthier statement, Calavitta wrote that The Treigning Lab does not condone the use of performance enhancing drugs but empathized with Dillashaw for succumbing 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…”
Calavitta’s full statement is as follows:
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.