UFC 232: Jon Jones Vehemently Denies Cheating, Says He Was “Almost Wronged” By Release Of Drug Test Results

Jon Jones & Alexander Gustafsson UFC 232
Credit: Jason Burgos/Sherdog.com

UFC 232 star Jon Jones was under fire at a press conference Thursday, where he continually denied using banned substances despite a history of drug test failures and a recent “atypical” test finding.

Jon Jones didn’t exactly get any fans at Thursday’s UFC 232 press conference. The embattled UFC star and thrice-stripped light heavyweight champion was combative with journalists at times, going as far as to call for the mic to be taken away from one reporter. And through it all, he continued to downplay the amount of the banned substance (Turinabol metabolites) found in his blood stream in a recent USDA-administered drug test.

“Me, I was no genius throughout schooling,” Jones answered when initially asked about the results of the test, which forced UFC 232 out of Las Vegas and into Los Angeles on less than a week’s notice. “So I’m learning all these things about pictograms — oh picograms — I’m learning as we speak, I’m still learning what this stuff is. And the funniest thing is someone trying to convince me as an undefeated fighter that I’m not confident because of a pictogram [sic].”

With that, the gloves were off, so to speak. Opponent Alexander Gustafsson, who lost to Jones back at UFC 165 in Toronto, interjected. “You had illegal sh*t in your body.”

“I think this is so funny that the person who lost is making an excuse of a microscopic chemical,” Jones retorted. “Instead of just saying Jon Jones’ balls is way bigger than mine and that’s why he beat me.” Gustafsson quipped that “you have the smallest balls here,” perhaps a reference to steroid use. “I don’t have illegal sh*t in my body,” ‘The Mauler’ added.

“This guy has found a way to justify why he lost. And it’s hilarious,” Jones responded. He’d later dress the situation up as a learning process. “I’ve been being educated by USADA, and now I’m being drug tested by VADA to prove my innocence. From what I understand, what is found in my body is like taking a grain of salt, or a grain of sugar… it’s like taking a grain of salt, and chopping it into 48 million pieces. That is why I beat Alexander Gustafsson?” he asked rhetorically.

Jones, of course, is glossing over the obvious. No one is accusing him of taking such a minuscule amount of a performance enhancing drug. But the trace amount of turniabol metabolites are seen as evidence that he was using something, at some point. Like a fingerprint at a crime scene.

Jon Jones, however, stuck to the narrative. “48 million pieces of one piece of salt, and that’s why I almost knocked him out in the fourth round?” Mind you, Jones original positive test for turinabol, his second failure under the USADA regime, came over a year and a half ago. USADA believes the most recent amount (confirmed earlier Thursday as having been detected in August) is part of a “pulse” — the system lingering in his blood stream, rather than evidence of recent usage.

UFC President Dana White later directed questions about drug testing to Jeff Novitsky, UFC Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance. That included questions about the supposed twelve to fourteen similar examples to Jones’ recent atypical test. Novitsky was not on hand, but had discussed the topic on the Joe Rogan Experience earlier in the day. A USADA official confirmed to Cageside Press Thursday that at least three such cases had come under their watch. None involved Turinabol.

As for Jones, he offered proof of his innocence by way of a lie detector test. “I think through science I will be vindicated — I passed a polygram [sic] test with pretty much the FBI, which means if I was lying, I’d go to jail for perjury.” No details were provided as to when that polygraph (Jones would later correct himself) took place or under what circumstances. As perjury occurs when under oath in a court of law, it’s doubtful he was at any real risk of jail time.

“I passed a polygraph test saying that I’ve never intentionally taken anything illegal to enhance myself,” Jones reiterated. “And now that science is starting to show itself, you will realize — half the people that are judging me haven’t opened a chemistry book since high school. It’s true, it’s so true.”

That little ad hominem was followed by Jones saying that “I think a lot of the professionals, whether it’s USADA or the UFC, are realizing, Jon is kind of like a guinea pig in this situation. Almost wronged in this situation.” Jones, in other words, tried playing the victim card before walking it back a little. “Even though it was in me, I think this is a way of fixing a wrong and making it right again, by not cancelling this fight and keeping the fight on, ultimately for the fans. Because this could have been cancelled. So even though a lot of fans got hurt in this situation, we saved the event.”

Then came the moment that will no doubt be the focus of the press conference. Asked by a journalist why he was on stage, why he’d avoided suspensions when the likes of Frank Mir and Tom Lawlor were hit with them, Jones snapped back “Sit down. Someone take the mic from her. Better questions. Better journalism. You suck. Better journalism.”

Though it appeared the pressure might be getting to Jones, he held it together til the end. Asked about his career as a whole, he admitted that “there’ll always be asterisk,” but that “there’s an asterisk next to who’s pound-for-pound the greatest of all time.” Ultimately in regards to his legacy, he added that “in my mind there is no asterisk. I was afraid of there being an asterisk next to my career when I was uneducated.”

However, said Jones, “as I’m learning what this really is, I’m actually almost mad it was even mentioned. It’s invisible, you can’t take a picogram. It’s that small, you can’t knowingly take it, that’s how small it is.” Again, glossing over the fact that this is a trace amount, not what would have actually been ingested. And somehow, it did wind up in Jon Jones’ system.

Instead he sees it has his naysayers making excuses. “I listen to fighters from the past, be like ‘this is why he beat me. Because he had this in him.’ I get why they need to do it, to feel better, to feel like ‘I can do it the second time.’ I get why they’re doing that. But I’ve taken off the asterisks next to what I’ve done. I know what I’ve done.” Jones remained adamant that his feats were accomplished by hard work, not by cheating. “Every push-up, ever sit-up, showing up to practice early, leaving there late. Wrestling camp since I was 12 years old, endless tournaments, I know what I’ve done. So after beating Gustafsson, I’ll be right back on the track I’ve always been on, which is being one of the all-time greats, and I know that in my heart, no matter who believes me or not.”

Jones then focused on why a trace element would suddenly show up in his system, months if not a year after he originally tested positive for it. “Science is getting so good that they’re finding sh*t— I guarantee you there’s many people in the audience that has shit that’s on the banned list, that’s never done any type of steroids,” he said, eliciting quite the response from the crowd in attendance Thursday. “That wouldn’t even know what this sh*t is. The fact of the matter is, there is something in my blood stream. It does not give me any advantage, and I’m grateful that USADA found it. Because I’ll be able to educate myself, and know more about it. And for fighters in the future, it’s going to help out a lot of people.”

“I think the science is so strong that they’re finding shit that— you know, it’s hard to explain,” he trailed off.

UFC 232 will go ahead Saturday at The Forum in Los Angeles. Jones will fight Alexander Gustafsson, as planned. But under so much scrutiny and with such a jumble of murky and sometimes combative answers, the issue will likely dog him for the remainder of his career. And rightfully so at this point.