UFC interim light heavyweight Jon Jones failed a PED test shortly before UFC 200, and was pulled from the unification fight with division champion Daniel Cormier. DC fought Anderson Silva instead in a non-title bout.
Jones only tested positive for Hydroxy-clomiphene and Letrozole, two estrogen blockers that are sometimes used following a cycle of steroids. USADA categorizes these as “specified substances,” due to the greater likelihood of a “credible non-doping explanation” for a test failure. The penalty for knowingly taking a PED for the first time is a two-year suspension. The penalty for testing positive for a “specified substance” ranges from a public warning to a maximum one-year suspension.
There have been multiple indications that Jones’ test was due to generic Cialis. He became the first fighter to make use of USADA’s arbitration option; unfortunately, the independent, three-person arbitration panel gave Jones the full, maximum one-year suspension. The panel’s reasoning is exhaustively detailed here.
The suspension is retroactive to the date of the test, so Jones will be eligible to fight July 6, 2017.
USADA announced today that an independent three-member arbitration panel from McLaren Global Sports Solutions, Inc. (MGSS) has rendered its decision in the case of UFC® athlete, Jon Jones, of Rochester, N.Y., and determined that Jones should receive the maximum one-year period of ineligibility for his anti-doping policy violation. This decision comes after the facts of the case were presented and fully argued at a day-long evidentiary hearing on October 31, 2016.
Jones, 29, tested positive for the presence of two prohibited substances, clomiphene and letrozole, following an out-of-competition urine test on June 16, 2016. Clomiphene and letrozole are both Specified Substances in the class of Hormone and Metabolic Modulators and are prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, the standard sanction for a policy violation involving a Specified Substance is a one-year period of ineligibility.
Depending on the athlete’s degree of fault for the doping offense, the sanction for an anti-doping policy violation involving Specified Substances can range from a reprimand and no period of ineligibility, up to the standard one-year period of ineligibility. Here, the MGSS Panel, comprised entirely of specially trained arbitrators from the Court of Arbitration for Sport, concluded that Jones’ degree of fault was at the very top end of the scale.
Jones’ one-year period of ineligibility began on July 6, 2016, the date of his provisional sanction. In addition, Jones has been disqualified from all competitive results obtained on and subsequent to July 6, 2016, including forfeiture of any title, ranking, purse, or other compensation.
The UFC too released an official statement.
UFC is aware of the one-year sanction levied against Jon Jones as a result of his UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation, decided by a three-person arbitration panel held on Monday, October 31, 2016. UFC has been advised that the one-year suspension commenced on Wednesday, July 6, 2016. While the decision indicates no evidence of Jones’ intentional use of banned substances, it does highlight the care and diligence that is required by athletes competing in the UFC to ensure that no prohibited substances enter their system.
The fighter commented as well, in a message to ESPN.
Although I was hopeful for a better outcome in the USADA ruling today I am very respectful of the process in which they allowed me to defend myself. I have always maintained my innocence and I am very happy I have been cleared in any wrongdoing pursuant to the allegations made that I had intentionally taken a banned substance. I am pleased that in USADA’s investigation they determined I was ‘not a cheater of the sport.’
Being cleared of these allegations was very important to me. I have worked hard in and outside of the octagon to regain my image and my fighting career and will take these next eight months to continue my training and personal growth both as a man and a athlete. Thank you to all of my fans, teammates, coaches, sponsors and to the UFC for their continued support.
Matt Bonesteel for the Washington Post reported that the panel felt Jones’ “fault was significant.” A guy named Bonesteel writing about a fighter taking a sexual aid is the sole point of light in the entire miserable process.
Apparently, Jones was given a pill from teammate Eric Blasich, purchased from a website called All American Peptides. It was not, in fact, Cialis, but was contaminated with the prohibited substances.
“He simply relied upon his teammate to tell him what it was and how it could enhance sexual pleasure,” wrote the panel. “His degree of fault in fact verged on the reckless.”
The “imprudent use” is believed to have cost Jones about $10,000,000.
Jones also faces a suspension and fine from the Nevada Athletic Commission. They could accept the USADA suspension, or administer a more severe one still. If they do a lesser suspension, it would have no practical effect as Jones is contractually bound by the USADA suspension.
This suspension is nuts.
The UFC hired Jeff Novitzky, who in turn selected USADA, in order to stop fighters from taking PEDs. Mixed martial arts does not have a big problem with fighters inadvertently taking something in a generic boner pill that could in far larger quantities be used at the end of PED cycle to restart formal functioning. Jon Jones didn’t take anything that did anything that improved his athletic performance. What he did might have been dumb, but it wasn’t wrong. His actions merited a public warning.
This is not what the UFC signed up for. Jones’ suspension is not rational and it’s not smart.
At some point, fighters are going to form a players association. When they do, penalties for PED use will become a subject for negotiation. Against a backdrop of abuse this like, real testing and real penalties will undoubtedly be lowered, perhaps to the laughable level of the NFL, where an athlete failing a PED test faces a four-game suspension. USADA will have no one but themselves to blame at that point.