California commission fines Jon Jones $205,000, revokes his license for failed drug test

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
The California State Athletic Commission revoked Jon Jones’ license and fined him $205,000 on Tuesday. (Getty)

Jon Jones’ return to the UFC is not imminent. The former light heavyweight champion, who had the anabolic steroid Turinabol show up in his urine following a postfight drug test on July 29, had his license revoked and was fined $205,000 on Tuesday by the California State Athletic Commission.

Jones, who can reapply for a license to fight in August, still faces punishment from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which administers the UFC’s anti-doping policy.

Jones scored a third-round knockout of Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 in Anaheim, California, before it was changed to a no-contest after the results of the tests. He insisted he didn’t knowingly take the steroid but accepted that the results were accurate.

He hired an expert to try to prove it was unintentionally ingested, but a commissioner suggested it didn’t matter.

“It isn’t just the intentional or not intentional [use of the steroid], because under our scheme, it doesn’t matter,” commissioner Martha Shen-Urquidez said. “It’s a strict liability. It’s in your system, it’s in your system. The reason is because you have to take personal responsibility. That’s the reason.”

Jones spoke directly to the commissioners on his own behalf, answering questions and insisting he did not knowingly use steroids. His expert, Paul Scott of Korva Labs, filed a report that said he’d come to the conclusion that the presence of Turinabol in Jones’ system was most likely from a contaminated supplement.

But Jones’ attorney Howard Jacobs had all 15 of the supplements Jones was taking during training camp and two separate massage creams he used examined and none were contaminated.

Jones passed a test given to him on July 8, but Turinabol was found in the postfight test on July 28. On Oct. 11, Jones’ lawyers had him take another test and he was free of Turinabol.

But Scott framed an answer about how he determined the presence of Turinabol in Jones’ system was most likely from a contaminated substance by saying, “There is a great deal of uncertainty around this conclusion.”

He was basing his opinion that it was a contaminated substance on the fact that it was a relatively low level and Jones’ system was clear on Oct. 11. Metabolites of Turinabol are long-lasting in the system and can be found well after ingestion.

Jones’ fight against Cormier at UFC 214 was his first since coming off a suspension for using clomiphene and letrozole that forced him to be removed from UFC 200, which was held in Las Vegas on July 9, 2016. He said he had taken a substance he believed to be Cialis.

He told commissioners that he was “super, super careful,” leading up to UFC 214 not to take banned substances.

He said he had a “terrible reaction” when he learned of the positive test.

“I’m very aware of my image and the perception of me,” Jones said. “And I’ve really, really been working really hard to change it. And this fight, definitely leading up to it, I thought I had the perfect situation and the people in my life who took care of everything, as far as a good nutritionist. You know, I just hired a lot more people to just help me. I had the ultimate professional team and it led to the knockout, so I was really proud of the team I’d built around me.”

He said he was “totally against performance-enhancing drugs,” and said, “I probably spoke about it more than any other champion in UFC history, being totally against it.”

Jones admitted that he hadn’t done what was necessary to follow USADA rules in terms of completing online education courses all fighters were required to complete. He admitted his managers had forged his signature on documents stating he’d completed the classes.

When commissioner John Frierson lent a sympathetic voice, Jones took the opportunity to swear he never knowingly took steroids in the most forceful away.

“Honestly, I put it on everything that is dear to me, everything that is dear to my soul, that I did not do steroids,” Jones said. “In this situation, I swear on my heavenly father that I’m not wrong. When you say, ‘When you’re wrong, you’re wrong,’ I would 100 percent agree. I’ve always handled my punishments head on. But in this situation, I’m not wrong. I swear on anything.

“I swear on everything that is dear to me, which is my Heavenly father, that I’m not wrong in this situation.”

Commission executive officer Andy Foster, himself a former fighter, said he believed Jones’ denials. But he still felt Jones deserved a punishment, so Jones was fined 40 percent of his $500,000 purse, which was $200,000, and then recommended fines of $2,500 on each of two counts of violating California’s regulations.

The six commissioners present voted unanimously to accept Foster’s recommendations.

“He doesn’t get to be a mixed martial artist right now,” Foster said. “That’s what I believe. Let him deal with USADA. Let USADA give their discipline, whatever it’s going to be, and when that’s completed, I would be inclined to support Mr. Jones’ application to return to this commission and get his license back.”

USADA still hasn’t scheduled a hearing on Jones, so he still has much ahead of him if he’s ever to return to competition. While an arbiter found in his 2016 case that he didn’t knowingly take the male enhancement pill, it still delivered the maximum punishment to him.

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