Jon Jones could be facing the end of his storied career. The news broke as the afternoon sun gave way to the sweltering Las Vegas evening on Tuesday that Jones had been flagged for a potential UFC anti-doping violation stemming from his UFC 214 bout with Daniel Cormier.
Jones initially won the bout, returning the UFC light heavyweight championship belt to his waist. If the charge against him is upheld, however, the shimmering gold hardware will once again be stripped away from him, just as it was following a felony hit-and-run accident in 2015.
Jones has been notified of a potential doping violation by USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) for a drug test that was administered in-competition on July 28 following the weigh-ins ahead of his fight against Cormier.
According to an initial report from TMZ.com, Jones tested positive for Turinabol, which is an anabolic steroid that aids in endurance and recovery. Jones has been provisionally suspended by USADA pending an adjudication process that all fighters are afforded after a potential doping violation.
This is the second time Jones has been in trouble with USADA following a positive drug test last year ahead of his previously scheduled bout with Cormier at UFC 200. He served a one-year suspension for that instance.
Now, however, if the UFC 214 related drug test result is upheld, Jones could be facing a sanction of anywhere from two to four years. Currently 30 years of age and considering his history, that could be a death sentence for his career as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time.
“I felt probably the same way every one of you felt when you heard, it’s unbelievable,” UFC president Dana White told shell-shocked reporters at the Tuesday streaming of his Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series.
“In my opinion, he’s the best ever to do (MMA). He’s the best ever. That makes it even more unfortunate.”
Asked if he felt Jones could bounce back from this situation if the charges stand, as he has when facing his past troubles, White didn’t sound optimistic.
“(If) he gets two or three years, that might be the end of his career. So to talk about his legacy, that’s probably the end of his career,” said White.“You look at what could have been, what he could have done. It’s sad. I don’t even know what to say. I always know what to say. I don’t know what to say about this one.”
If Jones is found to be responsible for ingesting a banned substance and placed on suspension, White indicated that the belt would likely return to Cormier’s waist.
“The only one (Cormier) has lost to in his whole career is Jon Jones. He was the champ. He’s the champion if Jones isn’t.”
Frank Lester, one of Jones’ Jackson-Wink MMA teammates, believes that the failed drug test, which resulted from an in-competition sample collected on July 28, wasn’t completely above board. Lester, a competitor on Season 9 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” currently helps run the amateur fighter program at Jackson-Wink in Albuquerque, N.M.
“I was just at dinner sitting next to Jon Jones when he got the phone call about this failed drug test. Supposedly the story is between weigh ins and fight night he took a oral steroid. Which makes zero sense since it wouldn’t do anything at all for Jon to do so. It takes weeks for steroids to build up in your system to be a performance enhancer,” Lester wrote on his Facebook page. “Jon was devastated to say the least. This is a set up, straight up, no athlete would test clean his entire fight camp, and then randomly take some cheap fucking oral steroid betweens weigh ins and fight night knowing he would be tested once he got done fighting. This is a straight set up.”
After Jones’ latest blunder, a flunked UFC 214 drug test for the steroid Turinabol, Cormier doesn’t know what to say.
“It’s hard to find words to describe how I’m feeling right now,” Cormier told MMAFighting.com. “I’m disappointed to hear the news. It’s very emotional. We as athletes are entitled to due process, and I will refrain from saying much more until I know exactly what happened.”
“In my mind, on July 29, I competed and I lost. I thought Jon Jones was the better man that day. I don’t know what to think anymore. I can’t believe we are going through all of this again. We will see what happens next.
“Thank you to all my fans who have supported me during this dark time. I love you all very much.”
Through 21 professional fights, Jones has handed Cormier the only two losses on his resume, though last month’s outcome will soon to erased.
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