Dillashaw’s Past Samples Being Checked for EPO

USADA is checking into past drug-test samples of T.J. Dillashaw’s following his two-year ban for erythropoietin (EPO) usage, according to UFC vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky.

Dillashaw tested positive for EPO during a drug test connected with his Jan. 19 flyweight title fight with Henry Cejudo at UFC Brooklyn. He was initially suspended for one year by the New York State Athletic Commission last month when it was first announced he had failed the drug test. He vacated the UFC bantamweight championship in response.

Now, according to Novitzky, the anti-doping partner of the UFC is checking more of Dillashaw’s past samples since the organization took over the UFC’s drug testing in 2015. Dillashaw has fought six times in that span, and while all the samples collected so far have come back negative for EPO, the former two-time UFC champ isn’t in the clear yet.

Novitzky mentioned samples sent to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) may be collected, and any more EPO findings could increase the length of Dillashaw’s ban from the sport.

“They’re looking to see whether or not they or in some cases WADA laboratories have the ability to make the decision to retain samples themselves. So in some cases, USADA will say, ‘Hey, these 10 samples you got today are UFC samples or our samples. Keep them for the next 10 years.’ In addition to that, the laboratory on their own can say, ‘You know what, we’re gonna keep these thousand samples just to do some studies on down the road.’

“Right now, they’re checking through those databases to see if anything were to remain. And I think if any were to remain and didn’t have the special analysis EPO done on them, they would do that here in the coming week.”

USADA does not test every sample for EPO because it occurs naturally in the body, with testing more complex and costly. Novitzky said a red flag may have been triggered somewhere in Dillashaw’s testing history that may have led the organization to investigate for EPO usage.

“My understanding is there’s algorithms they have that will spit out someone who is showing some red flags that may not be to the level of, ‘Hey, this is a positive test,’ but wait a second, we saw an uptick in red blood cells or the urine profile is a bit different than last time,” Novitzky said. “Those are likely athletes that are gonna get special analysis done.”

According to a statement from USADA spokesman Adam Woullard, USADA’s probing of Dillashaw is no different than any other athlete who fails a drug test.

“As a part of our investigation for all positives, we review an athlete’s prior test history,” Woullard said. “When it’s potentially relevant, we may request special analysis for those samples. Here, following our review, we conducted further analysis on his sample collected on December 28, 2018 and it also revealed the presence of EPO.”

Original Story: MMAFighting

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