Jon Jones Suspended 1 Year by USADA for Positive Drug Test

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2016

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 06:  Jon Jones speaks to the media during the UFC 200: Press Conference in KA Theater at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on July 6, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) officially suspended Jon Jones for one year Monday after he tested positive for two banned substances prior to his UFC 200 clash with Daniel Cormier in July, according to MMA Fighting's Marc Raimondi. The UFC ultimately pulled Jones from the fight and replaced him with Anderson Silva.

The suspension is retroactive to Jones' positive test, so he'll be eligible to fight again in July 2017. The UFC later released a statement on the suspension:

UFC is aware of the one-year sanction levied against Jon Jones as a result of his UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation, decided by a three-person arbitration panel held on Monday, October 31, 2016. UFC has been advised that the one-year suspension commenced on Wednesday, July 6, 2016. While the decision indicates no evidence of Jones' intentional use of banned substances, it does highlight the care and diligence that is required by athletes competing in the UFC to ensure that no prohibited substances enter their system.

Jones also issued a statement, captured by Raimondi:

Although I was hopeful for a better outcome in the USADA ruling today, I am very respectful of the process in which they allowed me to defend myself. I have always maintained my innocence and I am very happy I have been cleared in any wrong doing pursuant to the allegations made that I had intentionally taken a banned substance. I am pleased that in USADA's investigation they determined I was "not a cheater of the sport". Being cleared of these allegations was very important to me. I have worked hard in and outside of the octagon to regain my image and my fighting career and will take these next eight months to continue my training and personal growth both as a man and a athlete. Thank you to all of my fans, teammates, coaches, sponsors and to the UFC for their continued support.

Fox Sports' Damon Martin reported Jones was flagged for hydroxy-clomiphene and a Letrozole metabolite. Martin explained the benefit the drugs provided to an athlete:

Anti-estrogen drugs are typically used in doping to counteract the effects of another illegal substance such as steroids. Steroids or other similar substances that introduce extra testosterone in the human body, which then produces additional estrogen as a natural result. Additional estrogen can result in fat retention or potentially lead to gynecomastia, which is breast growth in men.

According to ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto, Jones' lawyer attempted to argue his client believed he was taking Cialis, a male enhancement pill, which he received from teammate Eric Blasich. Instead, Blasich had given Jones a different pill that contained substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The arbitrators who evaluated Jones' appeal ruled he didn't intend to cheat but was instead reckless.

Jones' rematch with Cormier was one of the most highly anticipated bouts of the year. The arbitrators who looked at Jones' case estimated the former champion lost roughly $9 million as a result of getting pulled off the UFC 200 card and the ensuing consequences, per Okamoto.

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In addition to his USADA suspension, Jones could face retroactive punishment from the Nevada State Athletic Commission stemming from the positive test. Citing the Silva case, Okamoto speculated Jones could receive a one-year suspension from the NSAC in line with USADA's ruling.

In August 2015, the NSAC suspended Silva for one year after he tested positive for Drostanolone and Androstane prior to and after his fight with Nick Diaz at UFC 183 in January 2015.