October 29, 2020

Juan Archuleta on T.J. Dillashaw’s USADA violation: ‘As a team, we paid for it’

By Nick Baldwin@NickBaldwinMMA


Juan Archuleta said T.J. Dillashaw’s USADA violation has created a “stigma” surrounding their team, that everyone uses performance-enhancing drugs — which, Archuleta assured, is not the case.

‘The Spaniard,’ who meets Eduardo Dantas at Bellator 222, trains with Dillashaw, a former UFC bantamweight champion, at The Treigning Lab in California. The gym is also home to the likes of Cub Swanson and Joe Stevenson.

Dillashaw tested positive for EPO in a USADA drug test administered prior to a first-round loss to Henry Cejudo in January. USADA suspended Dillashaw two years. Dillashaw relinquished his 135-pound title before he received his official suspension, but most certainly would have been stripped of it had he not made the decision himself.

Guilty by association in the eyes of many fans, Archuleta said Dillashaw’s violation “affected more than just him, unfortunately.”

“As a team, we paid for it, and I’m still paying for it with some of the comments that are being thrown out there,” Archuleta told Bloody Elbow.

“I was training with him every day and didn’t know these things were going on. Heartbreaking, yes, and shell-shocking, yes.”

Archuleta said despite the decision Dillashaw made, he still loves him “as a brother.”

“He’s helped me a lot with my career just like all my other training partners have,” Archuleta said. “Just because someone makes a poor decision, it’s not the end of the world for me. When a guy hits a low like that, what type of person are you gonna be there to pick him back up? When he was world champ, everything was going good, and I got a lot of hype around it. You can’t just take the good with the good and say, ‘I don’t want to be part of the bad.’”

“You just can’t put into words on the decision he made. But we’re gonna be there as a team to pick him up and let him know that he’s still loved and that he’s still gonna be a world champ coming off his suspension.”

Archuleta said Dillashaw’s success in the cage — his several title wins, for example — is far from just a result of his EPO use. Dillashaw worked hard in training, Archuleta said, and should be recognized for it.

“The work we put in, you’re not just gonna take the drug and automatically be God’s gift to Earth,” Archuleta said. “Even though he was on the drugs, he still had to put in the hard work. There are people in this sport now and still take the performance-enhancers and lose — and look, he lost that night as well. You gotta put the hard work in. People don’t recognize that.”

Archuleta said instead of taking a break from training during his suspension, it’s important for Dillashaw to get right back into the gym.

“We’re forcing him to get back in there,” Archuleta said. “With the decision he made, we gotta keep his mind busy. We’re building him up, letting him know he still has to stay in shape because those two years, it’s almost six months down, so he only has a year and a half left. By the time he gets his other surgery done, he’s gonna be within eight months of being ready to fight.”