Steroid metabolite again found in Jon Jones' system; no new violation, says CSAC

Kevin IoleCombat columnist
Yahoo Sports
Jon Jones won’t be punished despite 33 picograms of a steroid metabolite being found in his system. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Jon Jones won’t be punished despite 33 picograms of a steroid metabolite being found in his system. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones once again had minute amounts of a steroid’s metabolite found in his bloodstream following a bout. This time, as first reported by MMA Fighting’s Mark Raimondi, traces of DHMCT were discovered in Jones’ system after his Dec. 29 victory over Alexander Gustafsson in Inglewood, California.

The test was administered to Jones after the fight by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA), which is headed by Dr. Margaret Goodman in Las Vegas, and was analyzed by the WADA-approved Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory (SMRTL) in Salt Lake City.

Dr. Daniel Eichner of SMRTL determined that, once again, the presence of such trace amounts in Jones’ system weren’t evidence of new usage of Turinabol but vestiges from an earlier occurrence in 2017 for which Jones was suspended for 15 months. Andy Foster, the executive officer of the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), told Yahoo Sports there were 33 picograms of the long-term metabolite in Jones’ system on the Dec. 29 VADA test.

It is not considered a new violation and Jones won’t be punished.

“There is no evidence that DHCMT has been re-administered,” Eichner wrote in a December letter to Foster. “The most likely interpretation of these data is residual levels from previous exposure. In addition, the persistent reoccurrence of the M3 DHCMT metabolite in subsequent samples after an adverse analytical finding is not uncommon and at these low levels it is not indicative of further exposure.”

The presence of the long-term metabolite is indicative of what UFC vice president Jeff Novitzky refers to as a “pulsing effect,” whereby an extraordinarily minute amount of the long-term metabolite of Turinabol shows up intermittently in tests.

Were the short-term metabolite to be discovered, that would be evidence of more recent usage.

Foster said Jones would not face punishment given it is regarded as the same violation that occurred the day before UFC 214, which was on July 29, 2017, in Anaheim, California.

“It would be unconscionable of me to use the power of the state to prevent this man from making a living when the scientists say there is no new usage,” Foster told Yahoo Sports Wednesday. Jones faced a four-year ban for that violation, but after an appeal, it was determined by arbiter Richard McLaren that it wasn’t intentional use. McLaren noted it was never proven how the Turinabol got into Jones’ system in 2017, but he determined that Jones hadn’t intentionally taken a banned substance.

The UFC moved the entire UFC 232 card from Las Vegas to Inglewood, Calif., on less than a week’s notice when a long-term metabolite of Turinabol was discovered in his system.

The reason was that California commission officials were familiar with Jones’ case from having done his 2017 case and were in a position to rule. Nevada did not have the same level of familiarity and it was too close to the holidays and many of the commissioners were out of town when the issue arose only days before Christmas.

Jones will appear before Nevada commissioners on Tuesday in Las Vegas in a bid to be licensed for a fight against Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC 235 at T-Mobile Arena. Nevada didn’t stand in the way of the UFC moving UFC 232 to the Los Angeles area based on a promise that Jones would appear before them in January.

Now, with a fight scheduled, the significance of the hearing is magnified.

Yahoo Sports couldn’t reach Novitzky, but he told Raimondi that Jones isn’t getting a free pass and that each test is analyzed on its own merits.

“I don’t think it’s a blanket statement that every time that metabolite shows up that it’s automatically considered no re-administration,” Novitzky told MMA Fighting. “They’re looking at a lot of different factors each time it does show up. They’re looking at biological passport information to determine, are any of these other levels suspicious or raising or dropping? They’re looking to see if they can detect any of the shorter or medium-term metabolites. It’s not accurate to say that every time this expresses itself in Jon it’s an automatic free pass. They look at it in detail every time it shows up to make sure that everything is consistent with no re-administration and no performance-enhancing benefit.”

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