With many critics and doubters, Jon Jones still has a long march back to absolution from PED purgatory.
Jon Jones has been issued a one-fight license in the State of Nevada.
This clears the way for his return at UFC 235 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to defend his belt against Anthony Smith.
As a condition, Jones must submit to and pay for additional drug testing by the Nevada State Athletic Commission over the next 40 days. His testing window will ultimately be until the scheduled March 2 pay-per-view event.
The NSAC will meet again in February to determine if more drug testing is necessary. One of three agencies will carry it out: the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA), or the NSAC itself.
NSAC Chairman Anthony Marnell said during the hearing that testing will continue for all of 2019. Jones was also warned if any issues arise, “You’re probably not going to get another license here.”
That is a major statement.
Many State Commissions follow the rulings of Nevada. But California broke from that standard when it gave Jones a license to fight Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232.
Enter Dr. Daniel Eichner
Daniel Eichner of the Sports Medicine Research & Testing Laboratory has analyzed Jones’ urine samples. He testified at length about the long-term metabolite of oral turinabol and that the amounts found offered no performance-enhancing benefit.
However, he couldn’t draw any definitive conclusions about how long the metabolite could remain and how many picograms of M3 would be considered evidence of new usage.
Eichner said a previous study that put the window of detection for the M3 metabolite at 50 days is untrue and added that he has seen it detected “at very low concentrations for well over two years.”
Eichner also couldn’t rule out the possibility that Jones might have taken oral turinabol during a 10-month gap in drug tests between Oct. 11, 2017, and Aug. 9, 2018. This was one month before an arbitrator gave Jones a 15-month suspension for a July 2017 positive in the wake of his knockout win over Daniel Cormier at UFC 214.
NSAC ruled it’s unfair to punish Jones again for a substance he had already been suspended over. Their solution is to monitor “Bones” to ensure he doesn’t break the rules.
Fighting On Thin Ice
Still, in the aftermath of many fighters and even Bellator CEO Scott Coker expressing concern, NSAC members spoke out.
“Mr. Jones, this is a second-time anti-doping violation, and for me, I need a significant amount of certainty that there’s not re-administration going on, intentional or unintentional, to ensure the integrity of our testing process,” commissioner Robert McBeath said during the hearing.
“This is on you,” NSAC Chairman Anthony Marnell said to Jones. “It’s on your shoulders. I like what I hear, I like what I see, but the proof’s in the pudding. So I’m happy that you’re back here, you’ll always be treated with respect here, and I wanted to make sure that you understood that today. Welcome back to Nevada, and do the right thing from this point going forward. As you know, we’re going to be visiting you frequently.”
Jones, who appeared in person, made a statement following the decision:
“Thank you so much to USADA, thank you to Nevada State Athletic Commission, my team, the UFC, mainly the fans and everyone for sticking by me throughout this process allowing me to say my peace, allowing me to go through this process and eventually proving my innocence,” he said. “I’m super grateful to be back fighting in Nevada. I’m excited for March 2. It’s going to be a magnificent event and I’m just really looking forward to all the testing, looking forward to getting back in front of the fans and just putting on great fights.”
With many critics and doubters, Jones still has a long march back to absolution from PED purgatory.