Jon Jones Handed 15 Month Suspension by Independent Arbitrator in USADA Case, Eligible to Return in October

UFC 214 Jon Jones MMA UFC 232
Jon Jones Credit: Dave Mandel/

Troubled UFC star Jon Jones is back in the game after an independent arbitrator awarded him a 15-month retroactive suspension for his second doping offense, linked to his UFC 214 fight with Daniel Cormier.

The long drawn out saga of Jon Jones’ second drug test debacle has come to a close. In a bit of a surprise announcement, on Wednesday, USADA revealed via press release that Jones had been handed a suspension of 15 months by an independent arbitrator in the case. Jones had tested positive on July 28, 2017, before his bout at UFC 214 in Anaheim, CA, which saw him defeat Daniel Cormier for the light heavyweight title. The results of the test did not become available until after the fight; Jones’ victory was later changed to a No Contest, and the belt returned to D.C.

The substance Jones tested positive for was 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. DHCMT, in its oral form, is more commonly referred to a Turinabol.

Evidence in the case was presented at a hearing on September 15. In Wednesday’s release, USADA stated that:

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.”

USADA did not specify what evidence warranted the reduced sentence. It’s worth noting that the 30 month reduction was also not subject to review or challenge in the arbitration hearing. Jones’ suspension is retroactive to the date of his test failure, meaning he is eligible to return on October 28 of this year. The timing makes it possible for the former champ to headline the UFC 230 card in New York City in November, which still lacks a main event. That is, of course, if he manages to stay out of further trouble.

In addition, his license to fight was revoked by the California State Athletic Commission, who previously fined Jones $250,000. That situation will need to be cleared up before Jones makes his return, as other commissions will uphold the suspension. However, it’s not expected to pose a real obstacle for the fighter.

The full text of the decision can be found online via USADA’s website.

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