Jon Jones receives 15-month suspension from USADA, eligible to return on Oct. 28

Jon Jones

The long-awaited USADA decision has finally been announced. The former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been handed his suspension.

A bit surprisingly, it’s not as long as it was expected to be.

Jones was looking at a suspension of potentially up to four years after his failed drug test post-UFC 214 in July 2017.

Instead, USADA announced today that Jones is receiving a 15-month suspension that in result will make him eligible for return on October 28. The official statement can be read below.

USADA announced today that an independent arbitrator has rendered a decision in the case of Jon Jones, of Rochester, N.Y., and determined that Jones should receive a 15-month sanction for his second violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy. This decision comes after the facts of the case were presented and fully argued at an evidentiary hearing on September 15, 2018.

Jones, 31, tested positive for a prohibited substance as result of a sample collected during the in-competition testing period on July 28, 2017, before his bout at UFC 214 in Anaheim, Calif., an event sanctioned by the California Athletic Commission. Jones’ sample contained 4-chloro-18-nor-17β-hydroxymethyl,17α-methyl-5α-androst-13-en-3α-ol (M3), a metabolite of dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (DHCMT), or another chlorine-substituted anabolic steroid. Chlorine-substituted anabolic steroids, including DHCMT, are non-Specified Substances in the class of Anabolic Agents and prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

Prior to the hearing, USADA determined that a 30-month reduction in the otherwise applicable period of ineligibility was appropriate under the rules based on Jones’ delivery of substantial assistance. Evidence related to Jones’ substantial assistance was presented at the hearing and considered by the arbitrator.

The sanction was further reduced by the arbitrator based on Jones’ reduced degree of fault and the circumstances of the case, including the fact that Jones had been tested on multiple occasions leading up to UFC 214, and as recently as three weeks prior to the event, all of which yielded negative results for prohibited substances.

“The independent arbitrator found that Jon Jones was not intentionally cheating in this case, and while we thought 18-months was the appropriate sanction given the other circumstances of the case, we respect the arbitrator’s decision and believe that justice was served,” said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart. “This case is another strong reminder that athletes need to be extremely cautious about the products and supplements they use to ensure they are free of prohibited substances.”

Jones’ 15-month period of ineligibility began on July 28, 2017, the date his positive sample was collected, making him eligible on October 28, 2018. In addition, Jones’s victory at UFC 214 was recorded as a no-contest, and the UFC stripped Jones of the championship belt. The athlete’s positive test also falls under the jurisdiction of the California State Athletic Commission, which previously fined Jones $205,000 and revoked Jones’ license until the conclusion of the disciplinary process administered by USADA under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

The case was heard and the decision rendered by Richard H. McLaren, chief arbitrator from McLaren Global Sport Solutions, Inc. (MGSS), and can be found here, along with all other UFC Anti-Doping Policy arbitral decisions. Jones’ first sanction led to a one-year period of ineligibility and was imposed by an independent arbitration panel in 2016.

The rumor has seemingly been that Jones will make his return at UFC 230 on November 3 in  New York City at Madison Square Garden. However, multiple outlets including UFC president Dana White himself have reported and stated that this will not be the case.

Now, of course, this could very well be just a big smokescreen as the UFC awaits to officially announce it themselves. Possibly as soon as tomorrow at UFC 229’s big press conference. Tickets for UFC 230 go on sale next Wednesday and the event’s main event has still yet to be announced.

Alexander Gustafsson reportedly could also be ready to fight at UFC 230. In 2013, Jones got the toughest fight of his career to that point from the Swedish striking sensation.

White and Jones gave their comments on the situation.

The arbitrator found that Jones never intentionally or knowingly took steroids and the result of the positive test was the result of a contaminated substance. The science completely supports that finding. The science doesn’t lie so I look forward to getting him back early next year.

It’s difficult to express myself at this moment but I can definitely say my heart is filled with gratitude and appreciation. I want to thank all of you who have stood by me during the toughest stretch of my life. It has meant the world to me and always will. But now is the time to shift the focus front and center to the road ahead. Greatness is what I’m chasing and the path to reclaiming my throne is now officially open. Comeback Season begins now

Due to his recent troubles, Jones has only fought once a year since 2013.

 

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 9/19/2018