How Jon Jones got a slap on the wrist

Doug Mattushek

Jon Jones lives to fight another day after a favourable result in arbitration, but in true Jon Jones style, the full picture of his situation is murky at best.

The former light heavyweight champion tested positive for banned steroid turinabol in the lead up to his July 2017 fight with perpetual rival Daniel Cormier, resulting in his subsequent victory being reversed to a ‘no contest’.

As a side note, I doubt this is of much consolation for Cormier, who was reduced to tears on the mat that day in Anaheim in what must have been one of the lowest points of his distinguished career.

At any rate, like a cockroach that just won’t die, Jones is back. Arrested while driving under the influence and again after for a marijuana-induced hit-and-run incident, binging on cocaine, a Vitor Belfort armbar and two further failed drug tests, Jones has survived it all.

In his most recent escape, independent arbitrator Richard McLaren found very low levels of the steroid metabolite M3 in Jones’ blood sample, which is linked to five anabolic agents, including turinabol. While this finding was crucial in his reduced sentence, the key in the judgement was the “substantial assistance” Jones provided.

Let’s go to part of USADA’s statement on the matter:

Prior to the hearing, USADA determined that a 30-month reduction in the otherwise applicable period of ineligibility was appropriate under the rules based on Jones’ delivery of substantial assistance. Evidence related to Jones’ substantial assistance was presented at the hearing and considered by the arbitrator.

It continued: “Under Article of the UFC ADP, USADA is authorized to reduce all or part of any period of ineligibility based on substantial assistance provided by an individual accused of an ADPV. USADA has in its sole discretion determined that the Athlete is entitled to a thirty (30) month reduction in his period of ineligibility pursuant to this rule.

In sum, Jones gave the hearing such spectacularly juicy information on doping within the sport that his sentence was reduced by more than half.

As to exactly what this information was, we can only speculate. But by definition, the information will lead to USADA sanctioning and/or criminal investigating individuals. So we can assume Jones didn’t just rat on someone he saw a needle mark on. Additionally, he will have to continue to provide detailed information in the future or his ban will be reinstated.

Effectively, Jones has just become the most high profile snitch in MMA.

And just add more mud to the waters, there was no conclusion as to where the turinabol came from. Prior to the ruling, Jones’ team claimed they had no idea how the metabolite got in his system and the 14 supplements they submitted for USADA testing all came back clean.

So just how did this expensive anabolic steroid end up in his blood? Your guess is as good as mine…or Jones’…or USADA’s, apparently.

One thing we do know is the list of winners following the massively reduced suspension is ratherlong. To go from a potential four-year ban due to a second doping offence to a retroactive 15-month suspension is a huge win for Jones, his fans, overlord Dana White and the UFC’s future bottom line.

“The science doesn’t lie, so I look forward to getting him back early next year,” said White after the ruling.

Oh I bet you do Dana, you’re probably dreaming of pay-per-view numbers already.

The result also makes one question if Jones’ status as a cash-cow helped him get preferential treatment by USADA, who has been accused of handing out justice unevenly before.

But despite all the unanswered questions and potential subterfuge, do we really care? For many, arguably the greatest and most destructive MMA fighter who ever lived is eligible for action from October 28.

We can’t wait.