A visibly shaken Jon Jones took part in an impromptu press conference just minutes ago, telling the assembled reporters that he was surprised and saddened by reports from the USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner, that he had been flagged for a potential anti-doping policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection on June 16. Jones has subsequently been removed from his long-awaited championship fight this weekend against Daniel Cormier at UFC 200.
“Supposedly they found something in one of my samples. I have no idea what it is,” Jones said. “I can’t even pronounce it. I’ve been taking the same supplements most of my career. I’ve been outspoken against performance enhancers. Being labeled as a cheat hurts me more than anything else I’ve ever been through in my career.” Jones also apologized to fans and to the UFC and to Cormier. “I know this fight means a lot to him,” he said.
Jones’ agent, Malki Kawa, said Jones had been notified by the USADA last night of the potential violation and said that while neither he nor Jones would comment on the specifics of the case, they know it concerns the use of a metabolite supplement. Both Kawa and Jones denied Jones intentionally or knowingly took such a substance.
“We’re here to deny that and apologize,” Kawa said “We’re going to do what we have to do to fight [the test results].” The first thing that fight involves is having the USADA do a test of Jones’ B sample,. “The chances of it coming back negative are very slim but we’re holding out hope that might happen,” Kawa said. He is also holding out hope those results will come in tonight.
At that point, Jones, clearly distraught, left the dais for several minutes, leaving Kawa and Jones’ publicist Denise White to field questions. When Jones returned he began to cry, apologizing again to fans and to the UFC and assuring us that he believes “something good will come from this.”
However, when pressed about whether he had taken any new supplements during this most recent training camp, Jones seemed frazzled and answered vaguely.
“There’s a few things that have nothing to do with performance that I’ve tried,” he said. “Whatever it is, I can’t pronounce it, never even heard of it. I’m learning about it myself.”
When asked what safeguards his team had in place to make sure he wasn’t taking substances banned by the USADA, either intentionally or not, Jones briefly mentioned his management team before making it clear that those safeguards either weren’t in place or were ignored. “I didn’t really stress that whole thing,” he said. “I know in my heart I wouldn’t take anything that enhances me, so I didn’t feel the need. I didn’t think this would ever happen. I knew you had to write [a list of substances you’ve taken, as per USADA guidelines]. I didn’t think I was even in a grey area.”
The elephant in the room, of course, was Jones’ long history of legal and substance-abuse problems, including drunk-driving violations and the appearance of cocaine in his blood following his first fight with Cormier. But Jones said today’s controversy will not effect his sobriety, and Denise White assured those in attendance that the results of the USADA’s tests would have no impact of Jones’ current probation (for a hit-and-run last year). Also, despite all of our most lascivious wonderings, the USADA doesn’t test for street narcotics, like cocaine or marijuana, out of competition, which means Jon Jones is not in trouble for recreational drugs this time, but rather something performance-enhancing.
While much of the media was concerned with Jones’ feelings or the impact this incident will have on his “redemption story,” it was retired UFC fighter-turned-pundit Chael Sonnen—who once fought Jones and who, like Jones, got into trouble for violating UFC anti-doping policies—who ended up asking the hardest-hitting question of the morning. “Are you denying taking the substance or denying knowing it was on the banned list,” Sonnen asked.
“I would never take anything that would enhance my game. I wouldn’t cheat. So both,” Jones replied.
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