Update: After hearing the news on Tuesday night, UFC president Dana White told those at a Las Vegas studio during a recording of his contender series: "He has not been stripped yet, but he has got to go through the process."
Just when it seemed Jon Jones was out of the woods from numerous years of career controversy, the UFC Light Heavyweight champion has been dragged into another potentially destructive career situation.
The UFC today announced that Jones failed an in-competition drug test administered on July 28th, the night he won back the UFC belt from his rival Daniel Cormier with a third-round knockout in the UFC 214 main event. The drug test was administered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which oversees the UFC drug testing program.
A full statement was released Tuesday evening.
"The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Jon Jones of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an in-competition sample collected following his weigh-in on July 28, 2017.
"USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Jones, as it relates to the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and future UFC participation. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) also retains jurisdiction over this matter as the sample collection was performed the day before Jones’ bout at UFC 214 in Anaheim, CA, and USADA will work to ensure that the CSAC has the necessary information to determine its proper judgment of Jones’ potential anti-doping violation."
The news comes as a shock to Jones, who returned to competition for the first time in 15 months for the bout with Cormier after a failed drug test prior to UFC 200 in July 2016 put him on a yearlong suspension.
Jones claimed innocence following the previous test, stating that the banned substance in his system stemmed from ingesting off-brand sexual enhancement pills.
Once again Jones and his team are stunned by the test results, as revealed in a statement to ESPN's Brett Okamoto.
Statement from Jon Jones's camp. pic.twitter.com/uMxsMWZMij— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) August 23, 2017
On top of the two test results over the past 13 months, Jones also tested positive for cocaine following his first encounter with Cormier at UFC 182 in January 2015.
Jones and his team plan to dispute the findings of the test, but if the result holds up he could face up to a four-year suspension and could potentially be stripped of a UFC title for the third time in the past 27 months.
Cormier, who was also taken off guard by the news despite his tenuous history with Jones, released a statement on the situation to MMAFighting.com.
"It's hard to find words to describe how I'm feeling right now. 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."
Although everything is still fresh, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), which sanctioned the UFC 214 bout at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., released a statement reminding the world that Jones is still entitled to due process before being entire condemned.
"The California State Athletic Commission has been made aware of Jon Jones' test results and is looking into the matter. The Commission takes these matters very seriously and will take any appropriate actions necessary after a thorough review of the situation. As with all fighters, Mr. Jones is entitled to due process and the Commission will work with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to get all of the proper information."