“It’s been quite the journey,” Jon Jones wrote on Twitter on Aug. 15. “And it’s far from over.”
But a week after penning those words, Jones’ career is hanging by the thinnest of threads. He’s accused of failing yet another drug test and this time, the penalty could end the career of the greatest fighter any of us has ever seen.
He tested positive for the anabolic steroid turinabol, and has been provisionally suspended by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. The test was administered to him by USADA on July 27 following the weigh-in for his bout the next night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, where he knocked out Daniel Cormier in the third round of the main event of UFC 214 to regain the light heavyweight belt.
UFC president Dana White hardly knew what to say Tuesday after the stunning news, which broke four days before the biggest bout in combat sports history, the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
White spoke to reporters Tuesday following the fights on “Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders Series,” which was held at The Ultimate Fighter Gym.
“[If] he gets two or three years, that might be the end of his career,” White told reporters after the card. “So to talk about his legacy, that’s probably the end of his career.”
White has an answer for just about anything. This time, he was not able to provide much context, or any answers.
He was, like anyone who has followed the UFC these past nine years when Jones has taken fans to such great heights with his talents and to such great depths with his failings, unable to adequately express himself.
“I always know what to say,” White said. “I don’t know what to say about this one.”
It’s confounding. Jones has denied the allegations, though he has yet to speak publicly.
If the findings are upheld, it will be his second violation under the UFC’s deal with USADA, and he’ll face at least a two-year suspension.
His team released a statement in which it said, “Jon, his trainers, his nutritionists and his entire camp have worked tirelessly and meticulously the past 12 months to avoid this exact situation.” It went on to describe him as “crushed by the news.”
Jones can have his B-sample tested. If it matches the A-sample, it’s considered a violation, though Jones has the right to an appeal. That process could take as long as a year.
Jones’ statement indicated the B-sample would be tested and referenced contamination.
Perhaps he took a contaminated supplement, but it is the athlete’s responsibility to know what goes into his body. USADA’s website has a special section on supplements, and the most telling information comes on the front of its supplementation page.
“Many athletes believe they need dietary supplements to perform at their best,” the introduction reads. “However, there is limited, if any, evidence supporting the need for supplements. … No organization, including USADA, can guarantee the safety of any dietary supplement … ”
Jones tested positive prior to UFC 200 for clomiphene and letrozole. He said he took it from a friend and was told it was like Cialis and would help improve sexual performance. He was suspended for a year.
He was off suspension for only a few weeks when he failed yet another test.
But this “poor Jon” line is ridiculous and needs to be stopped in its tracks.
There are only three possible excuses for how an anabolic steroid got into his system. First, there is the possibility, however remote, that the test results are incorrect, and that Jones didn’t have turinabol in his system and will ultimately be vindicated.
Then, and only then, the “poor Jon” line may have merit.
Second, he took something he thought was legal that was contaminated by turinabol.
Third, he knowingly took turinabol to seek out its performance-enhancing benefits.
There can be no other explanation. If he ate something that was contaminated, then he must have traitors around him because given the issues he’s had in his career, how could everything that goes into his mouth not have been checked and re-checked before it was given to him?
Let’s assume, for the moment, that Jones’ positive test was caused by a contaminated substance. If those who work for him didn’t vet what he was given and have his supplements tested, it is gross negligence on their part.
But if it wasn’t from a contaminated supplement, then hard questions have to be asked. Because if Jones’ B-sample comes back positive as well, there is no other explanation other than he took something himself, knowingly or unknowingly, that contained turinabol.
The burden is on Jones and his team to provide credible answers.
Regardless of how the turinabol got into his system, though, Jones is the captain of his ship, and the responsibility is on him to make certain he takes nothing that might be in violation of anti-doping rules.
He was highly negligent last year by taking the pill he thought was Cialis from a friend. And while USADA noted it found no evidence he intended to cheat, it nevertheless suspended him for a full year.
It’s hard to imagine USADA being lenient if that B-sample comes back again.
If he cares about his career – and some would question if he does given the voluminous number of out-of-the-cage incidents which have plagued his career, including using cocaine while in the middle of a training camp – he needs to answer some hard questions.
It’s mind-boggling that a man so talented, so gifted, and such a genius in this art, is so frequently and repeatedly involved in such questionable and distasteful behavior.
Odds seem likely he’s fought for the last time until at least 2020, if ever.
And while Jones has often been frustrating and confounding, if he’s gone, it’s a painful loss to the fans and this sport. No one is remotely close to his level of talent and accomplishments.
Nor, sadly, is anyone even close to as big of a screw-up.
It can’t be a coincidence that this keeps happening to him.
Related coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Jon Jones failed drug test before UFC 214 fight
• Dan Wetzel: Jon Jones may have KO’d his MMA career
• Twitter had zero chill about Jon Jones’ positive steroid test