After being removed from UFC 200 due to “a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection on June 16, 2016″ Jon Jones held a public press conference where few specifics were revealed. It is still unclear what substance Jon Jones ingested (though it is speculated to be estrogen blockers). What was revealed, however, is that whatever substance Jones ingested he failed in setting up a robust system of due diligence.
Since the USADA Anti-Doping Program came into force 2 athletes have succeeded with the ‘tainted supplement’ defence. Tim Means proved that he ingested a dietary supplement that contained Ostarine and that this substance was not labelled on the supplement. Yoel Romero also proved that he ingested a supplement ‘contaminated with Ibotamoren”.
While both Means and Romero successfully pulled off the tainted supplement defence, they both also learned that this is not a complete defence and were both hit with 6 month suspensions. In short, ingesting a tainted supplement still is an anti-doping violation, it just gives USADA discretion to be more lenient with their punishment. Specifically the policy reads as follows:
In cases where the Athlete or other Person can establish that the detected Prohibited Substance came from a Contaminated Product, then the period of Ineligibility shall be, at a minimum, a reprimand and no period of Ineligibility, and at a maximum, the period of Ineligibility set forth in Article 10.2, depending on the Athlete’s or other Person’s degree of Fault.
This is where Jon Jones’ public admissions may prove troubling for him. In order to seek leniency USADA expects extreme diligence from athletes. USADA expects athletes to take the following steps in discharging diligence –
(i) read the label of the product used (or otherwise ascertain the ingredients),
(ii) cross-check all the ingredients on the label with the list of prohibited substances,
(iii) make an internet search of the product,
(iv) ensure the product is reliably sourced and
(v) consult appropriate experts in these matters and instruct them diligently before consuming the product.
At about the 17:45 mark, Jones, when asked by reported John Morgan “What guards are in place to make sure that you don’t put yourself in a situation like this, whether willingly or unknowingly” Jones responded as follows –
“Right,um, you know, my management team , uh,I was very aware that everything needs to be documented and uh, leading up to the fight, and… I really did not stress that whole thing. You know? I just know in my hear that I would never take anything that enhanced me in any way. …So I didn’t feel the need to even jot down anything. I just, I guess I didn’t really think this could ever happen… I knew that you had to write things down and I never thought I was not even in a grey area to have to worry about jotting down the type of things I take”
Jones’ manager revealed he lost an ‘eight figure payday‘ by being kicked off UFC 200. Given Jones’ press conference admissions USADA will question how, with this much at stake, a fighter at Jones’ level failed to have a system of due diligence in place. These admissions may mitigate against any leniency USADA may have otherwise been willing to exercise for Jones. This lack of diligence may very well lead to a longer suspension that Means and Romero received even if a ‘tainted supplement’ proves to be the culprit.