And still — although it took a circuitous rout to return to his waist — Daniel Cormier remains the UFC light heavyweight champion after Jon Jones’s positive steroid test was confirmed on Wednesday.
The UFC made the announcement late Wednesday night, hours after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced that Jones’s “B” sample confirmed the presence of a metabolite for the steroid Turinabol in a urine sample provided July 28, the day before he beat Cormier at UFC 214. The fight will now be ruled a no contest.
“UFC was informed Wednesday that the result of the UFC 214 bout between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier on July 29 was overturned by the California State Athletic Commission,” UFC said in a statement. “The ruling changes the Jones ‘win’ to a ‘no contest’ following a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an in-competition sample collected after Jones’s weigh-in on July 28, 2017. … As this was a title bout, Cormier will be reinstated as UFC light heavyweight champion.”
Jones has maintained his innocence since his “A” sample, which is provided at the same time as the “B” sample, came back positive in August. And while the fighter still has the chance to appeal, it appears likely that USADA will suspend him for at least a year and probably more, as this is Jones’s second violation, even if he can prove he unknowingly ingested the substance.
Jones last tested positive for a banned substance in 2016 and was subsequently suspended for a year after he convinced USADA officials he unknowingly ingested two banned anti-estrogen agents via a tainted sexual enhancement pill.
Neither Jones nor his team have publicly commented on the latest news, although in August, Jones’s manager described the 30-year-old fighter as “crushed” by the news of his “A” sample coming back positive.
“We are all at a complete loss for words right now,” Malki Kawa said in a statement to MMA Fighting. “Jon, his trainers, his nutritionists and his entire camp have worked tirelessly and meticulously the past 12 months to avoid this exact situation.”
One of Jones’s training partners even alleged the fighter was “set up,” noting it “makes zero sense” that Jones would test negative throughout his training camp only to show steroids in his system the day before the fight.
“This is a set up, straight up, no athlete would test clean his entire fight camp, and then randomly take some cheap [expletive] oral steroid between weigh-ins and fight night knowing he would be tested once he got done fighting,” Frank Lester said (via BJPenn.com). “This is a straight set up.”
Lester did not specify who he believed to be the culprit, while others, including UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, dismissed the conspiracy theories altogether.
“Who’s going to try to frame him? The UFC? He’s making the UFC money. Daniel Cormier? It’s you and the USADA person. It’s you and one other man handling your urine,” Johnson told Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour” in August. “It’s sealed laser tight. No one knows it’s his. … Even the lab doesn’t know who it is. They don’t go, ‘who’s number 262195?’ They test it and send it out.”
Both the UFC and the USADA have stressed that before any final judgments are made in the case, Jones should get a fair hearing.
“I would very much encourage everybody, despite where we’re at in this with the ‘B’ sample being confirmed, I would encourage the media, I would encourage Jon’s fans, I would encourage those who aren’t fans of Jon’s, to let this process play out,” Jeff Novitzky, the UFC’s vice president of athlete health and performance, told Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole.
A USADA spokesperson, meanwhile, added in a statement (via ESPN) on Wednesday: “Due process should occur before drawing any conclusions about this matter.”
Even if Jones can prove his case, however, getting back in the good graces of fans — and fellow fighters — might be harder than ever.
“USADA’s being very straight line saying due process but the reality is you can’t fail drug tests. You can pass 100 drug tests, you cannot fail one,” Cormier said during “UFC Tonight” on Wednesday (via MMA Weekly). “They’re saying we have to wait for the due process but what are we waiting for? We’ve tested the ‘A’ sample, we’ve tested the ‘B’ sample. If there’s anything you cannot test positive for performance enhancing drugs. You just can’t do it. It’s unfair. I’m very upset about it.”
Cormier continued, addressing Jones directly through the camera: “You have all the physical advantages, sir. You’re 30 years old, you’re 6-foot-4, you’ve got a 84-inch reach. I’m 38 years old — I would love to take stuff and wake up every morning and not have to walk down my stairs sideways and just get back to training. It’s an unfortunate situation. We had one of the biggest fights of the year and once again this guy has made a mockery of the sport.”