Latest Chapter In Jones PED Saga Impacts Future MMA Business Practices

Jon ‘Bones’ Jones lies in the land of picograms.

Jon Jones‘ urine sample collected at weigh-ins for UFC 232 found trace amounts of long-term oral Turinabol metabolites.


Jones defeated Alexander Gustafsson to regain the UFC light heavyweight belt, however, the same picograms remained in the newest sample. The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) is delivering no punishment from the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) test.

CSAC executive officer Andy Foster is standing firm by his decision. The long-term M3 metabolite is the same one Jones was suspended 15 months for from a July 2017 sample.

“I spoke with the scientists,” Foster said to MMAFighting. “They stand by their original statement. Nothing has changed. We’ve already punished Jon Jones for the M3 metabolite, which is a long-term metabolite. There’s no grounds to charge somebody twice for the same violation.”

Foster also stressed that subsequent drug tests from Jones have come back clean.

Still, the Nevada State Athletic Commission didn’t grant Jones a license to fight in Las Vegas, the original UFC 232 site. The metabolite was present in tests administered between August and December 2018. The metabolite presence forced Nevada State Athletic Commissioner Bob Bennett to deny Jones a license.

Gustafsson’s Team Speaks

Alexander Gustafsson’s manager Nima Safapour released a statement regarding the incident:

“The inconclusive and inconsistent results that are repeatedly occurring with Jon Jones, at the very least, should compel our industry to have a greater, deeper, and more impartial discussion about the legitimacy of Jon’s defense,” said Safapour. “Jon has gone out publicly boasting when some of his results come back negative. However, he remains silent when his test results come back positive. You can not have it both ways and cherry-pick the results that are favorable for you, and insist that we disregard the results that go against your interests.

“Jon has essentially received a use exemption on a strict liability violation. The science is not certain on the defense he has taken. Furthermore, science is always in a state of change. So the science we rely on today is different than the science we relied on from just a few years ago. It will probably change again going forward. Jones is also creating a precedent that will go beyond his personal interests in the sense that now other fighters will also seek use exemptions on a strict liability violation based on an issue that the science community is still divided on. It’s an absolute mess.”

The Opposition Weigh-In

The relatively quiet CEO of Bellator, Scott Coker revealed his take on the incident as well:

“I called Andy Foster, it was a private conversation and I’d like to leave it at that.” said Coker at at media scrum for Fedor vs. Ryan Bader. “But just from a company standpoint I think it’s very disappointing,”

“You go out there and put your reputation on the line for health and safety and all the weight-cutting. We have always supported the commission and we will continue to support the commission, but if a fighter has PED’s in him, he has PED’s in him. That’s how I feel. To be the judge, jury and executioner, now, it’s a little bit challenging for me to accept.

“But it is what it is. I have always said we are going to abide by commission rules and we will continue. But I don’t think that it was the right call. But that was his call to make. For 32 years I’ve been with the California State Commission this is one of the few times that I said, ‘Hey, this is not right.’ But we will see what happens with that.”

The Jon Jones saga continues under a shroud of scrutiny. This challenges the way promoters and athletic commissions have traditionally done business. Nevada is the most respected athletic commission in combat sports.

After saying no to Jones, it raises many questions about California’s culpability.

Back to top