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The hammer has come down on Jon Jones.
After speculation that Jones would receive a lighter suspension or none at all from USADA after failing a drug test and being pulled from the main event of UFC 200, the former light heavyweight champion has been suspended for the maximum of one year by an independent arbitration panel.
The decision comes after Jones had his case presented to three arbitrators from McLaren Global Sports Solutions last week during a 10-hour session. The 29-year-old tested positive for a pair of prohibitive substances, clomiphene and letrozole, following an out-of-competition urine test on June 16.
Jones and his team were confident that he wouldn’t receive the maximum suspension after claiming that the tainted supplements came from a sexual-performance pill that USADA confirmed was, in fact, tainted. However, the arbitrators stated that Jones did not do his due diligence in checking whether the supplement he took contained any substances that would violate the anti-doping and the WADA code. Because of that, the arbitrators “concluded that Jones’ degree of fault was at the very top end of the scale” and the maximum sentence of a one-year suspension would be levied.
Where this case differed from the six-month suspensions that were served to UFC fighters Tim Means and Yoel Romero is that those were deemed as “classic” cases where the banned drug was not listed on the warming label of the contaminated substance.
Ultimately, Jones is being held responsible for recklessly ingesting a supplement without doing the research to ensure that the supplement was not tainted with a banned substance.
“On the evidence before the Panel, the Applicant is not a drug cheat,” the arbitrators stated in the epilogue of the 29-page decision. “He did not know that the tablet he took contained prohibited substances or that those substances had the capacity to enhance sporting performance. However by his imprudent use of what he pungently referred to as a ‘dick pill’ he has not only lost a year of his career but an estimated nine million dollars. This outcome which he admits to be a wake-up call for him should serve as a warning to all others who participate in the same sport.”
Jones’ suspension is retroactive to the date when the results of the test came back, which means that he will be eligible to return to action in July 2017.
The UFC offered the following statement in response to Jones’ suspension:
“UFC is aware of the one-year sanction levied against Jon Jones as a result of his UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation, decided by a three-person arbitration panel held on Monday, October 31, 2016. UFC has been advised that the one-year suspension commenced on Wednesday, July 6, 2016. While the decision indicates no evidence of Jones’ intentional use of banned substances, it does highlight the care and diligence that is required by athletes competing in the UFC to ensure that no prohibited substances enter their system.”