“Reckless” Jon Jones Suspended 1 year by USADA

Today Chairman Michael J. Bellof released reasons for judgement handing Jon Jones a 12 month period of ineligibility due to a failed out of competition drug test administrated on June 16, 2016.

In short the sample tested positive for hydroxyclomiphene (a metabolite of clomiphre) and a letrozole metabolite.  These are ‘specified substances’ under the UFC’s custom anti-doping program with USADA calling for a punishment range from a reprimand up to a one year period of ineligibility.

Jones traced the substance back to a sexual performance pill he obtained from a friend.  The panel concluded that “He did not know that the tablet he took contained prohibited substances or that those substances had the capacity to enhance sporting performance“.

However, Jones was handed the maximum penalty because his “fault was at the top end of the scale….He made no enquiry at all about the Tadalafil pill which he did take.  He simply relied upon his tea ate to tell him what it was and how it could enhance sexual pleasure.  His degree of fault in fact verged on the reckless.”

It is also noteworthy that Jones failed to disclose the pill to USADA when they collected his sample with the reasons noting Jones “affirmed that he had no substances to declare (in particular he made no reference to either Cialis or Tadalafil) and by signing the completed form certified that the information he had given on the document, was correct.”

The arbitrator distinguished Jones’ situation from Tim Means and Yoel Romero who each received a 6 month suspension for consuming tainted supplements.  The arbitrator noted “The cases of Romero and Means, UFC athletes, provided instances of classic contaminated products in the form of dietary supplements, purchased from orthodox outlets, whose labels did not disclose the prohibited substances which each contained” calling these cases of “moderate” fault contrasted to Jones’ recklessness.

The legal lessons for other UFC athletes are twofold

  1. Accuracy is important when declaring substances used to USADA at the time of sample collection
  2. Due diligence is needed.

Not only did Jones fail in exercise diligence, he outright admitted this shortcoming at his own press conference shortly after his sample tested positive.

USADA expects the following from athletes claiming due 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.

The arbitration concluded with the following warning:

On the evidence before the Panel, the Applicant is not a drug cheat.  He did not know that the tablet he took contained prohibited substances or that those substances had the capacity to enhance sporting performance.  However by his imprudent use of what he pungently referred to as a “dick pill” he has not only lost a year of his career but an estimated nine million dollars.  This outcome which he admits to be a wake-up call for hi should serve as a warning to all others who participate in the same sport.

The full reasons can be found here – jon-jones-usada-decision

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