T.J. Dillashaw might not be out of danger yet.
According to Dillashaw's two positive drug tests for the banned substance recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO), the USADA continues its investigation into the now-former UFC bantamweight champion, according to UFC's vice president of health and athletic performance Jeff Novitzky .
Dillashaw was suspended for two years for the violation of UFC's anti-doping policy, announced earlier this week. And any other EPO finding in previous drug test samples could increase the length of that ban, Novitzky said.
Dillashaw, 30, tested positive for EPO in relation to his January 19 fight against Henry Cejudo at UFC Brooklyn. USADA returned and tested Dillashaw's December 28 sample for EPO and it was also positive.
According to Novitzky, USADA has already examined all samples collected from Dillashaw in relation to their fights since the agency took over the UFC drug testing program in 2015. Dillashaw fought six times in the program before the Cejudo fight. All the samples provided were badyzed for EPO at the time and returned clean, said Novitzky that USADA had told him.
However, the USADA is still looking for more old Dillashaw samples to test, said Novitzky. While USADA may not have more on hand, the laboratories of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to which the samples were sent were sent.
"They are still investigating," said Novitzky of the USADA. "They are looking to see if they or not, or in some cases, the laboratories of the AMA have the ability to make the decision to retain the samples." Then, in some cases, USADA will say: "Hey, these 10 samples that you received today are samples of UFC or our samples, keep them for the next 10 years. " On top of that, the lab can say, & # 39; You know what? We're going to save these thousand samples just to do some studies in the future. "
"Right now, they're going through those databases to see if there's anything left, and I think if anyone stayed and did not do the special EPO badysis on them, they would do it here next week."
If USADA finds more old Dillashaw samples and some of them come back positive for EPO after further badysis, Dillashaw could be affected by another violation of the UFC anti-doping policy and a potentially longer suspension, said Novitzky.
"Yes, that is my understanding," said Novitzky. "He was not given a second violation because of the December positive, because I think they saw everything in an ongoing violation, it's close enough to that fight night test, but certainly, any of those previous tests, and I do not know if there are any, but if there is something that has not been done that badysis and they did it and it was positive, it would be another violation. "
USADA does not badyze all samples for EPO, because EPO occurs naturally in the body and tests are more complex and require more time than regular tests, according to the USADA website. The agency will conduct a test for the EPO, said Novitzky, when a red flag appears on the biological pbadport maintained by the USADA in each UFC hunt.
Novitzky said the agency did not tell USADA why the agency decided to test Dillashaw's DFC sample at UFC Brooklyn for the EPO. But it can be deduced that a red flag appeared somewhere in the Dillashaw test history. Novitzky said that USADA has told him that "all the tests are done strategically."
"I understand that there are algorithms that have to spit at someone who is showing some warning signals that may not be at the level of" Hey, this is a positive test ", but wait a second, we saw an increase in the Red blood". The cells or the profile of the urine are a little different than the last time, "said Novitzky." It's likely that these athletes do a special badysis. "
USADA said through a statement by spokesman Adam Woullard that the Dillashaw survey by the agency is no different from the usual protocol for any failed drug test.
"As part of our research for all the positive aspects, we reviewed the history of an athlete's previous tests," said Woullard. "When it is potentially relevant, we can request a special badysis for those samples, here, after our review, we made an additional badysis of your sample collected on December 28, 2018 and also revealed the presence of EPO."
EPO is an exceptionally difficult drug to detect. Novitzky said that for four or five years, when he found him as a federal agent investigating cyclists, when administered by micro-doses, he can clean the system between six and eight hours. Novitzky said that EPO increases a person's red blood cell count, which could increase endurance and improve recovery.
Dillashaw essentially admitted the intentional use of EPO, apologizing in a video message on Instagram on Friday. He called it an "error" and a "bad decision".
Novitzky said he hopes Dillashaw's situation will dissuade others from the UFC USADA program.
"Personally, it completes the mix of emotions," said Novitzky. "I like TJ, good person, but doing something like this is really bad and worries me in this sport, so definitely, a mixture of emotions, I tell people all the time, when these things happen, I never I'm glad for them, there's a part of me that says: "God, what did I not tell this boy or girl that they were going to get caught in this program if they did this?" I will fail you by not being nearly dissuasive enough, I feel like sometimes. "