Despite another controversial saga threatening to end Jon Jones’ career, UFC Vice President of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky is optimistic
Jones left fans with their heads in their hands once again last month, when he flagged positive for banned substances following a test carried out by USADA.
“Bones” was subsequently was stripped of the UFC light heavyweight title he reclaimed following a knockout victory over Daniel Cormier at UFC 214, leading to speculation that at best, the light heavyweight legend would be facing a suspension up to four years.
Novitzky, however, believes that this may not be the case at all. According to the UFC suit, Jones may be able to avoid any significant punishment providing his team can successfully prove that he was not conscious of any wrongdoing:
“Jon tested positive from a sample collection done weigh in the day before the UFC event in Anaheim that was in July. Basically, he was just coming off a one-year suspension. The previous suspension went to arbitration. So you had three different independent arbitrators looking at it. All of them ruled that he did not purposely use anything to enhance his performance.
But, they also ruled that he operated with careless and reckless disregard for what he took and ended up getting contaminated. So there was really no reduction in sanction and so he got a one year sanction from that previous one. Now unfortunately on this one, because of that previous sanction, he’s now looking at a second sanction which would basically double your penalty.
The substance that he tested positive for was a metabolite of an anabolic steroid.”
Novitzky continued to talk through a scenario where Jones may have unwittingly ingested a compound which flagged upon USADA’s testing protocol:
“That was a substance where a few years ago would only be detectable for a few days within the system. Now laboratories have found longtime metabolites tests, where metabolites can be detected four maybe up to six months after use. However, Jon [Jones] submitted clean tests on July 6 and July 7 of 2017. His positive test was from July 29.
A simple Google search would show you that this substance, it’s detection window has now moved out from four to six months. So, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that anybody with any level of sophistication would choose to use this drug. I had to have been used after July 7, or entered his system after July 7. It would not make sense to go to this drug because of the multi-month detection window.
So, that would leave me to believe that it was probably from non-purposeful ingestion.”
Novitzy also confirmed that Jon Jones and his team are working round the clock to prove his innocence and that the UFC are assisting them throughout the process:
“So where we are at is that Jon’s team is working hard. We (the UFC) are assisting them wherever we can to try to determine how this substance got into his system. Sometimes that is not a quick process. It can take weeks, if not months of testing supplements and retracing your steps.
“Best case scenario is if he (Jones) can prove that this (substance) thing came from something that was not high risk.”
Novitzky also cited cases in both Mexico and China where athletes had ingested the meat of animals which had been injected with and fed substances which later fagged in their systems. USADA has previously given “no fault sanctions” to those athletes which would carry zero punishment.
Should Jones and his team adequately prove that there is no fault on behalf of the former champion, it is very conceivable that he will be back in the Octagon sometime in 2018. As Daniel Cormier was re-declared champion following the UFC’s decision to strip Jones of the title, a third fight between both men would also be highly likely.
Jones is currently 1-0 over Cormier. This record would have been 2-0 if not for the positive test leading to the overturning of that result at UFC 214 to a No Contest. While there is still much to be done on behalf of team Jon Jones in terms of getting their fighter back into the UFC, fans will be paying close attention to the progress over the next few months.