California Clears Jon Jones from Suspension List, Gives Him a Route to Clear His Reputation

December 11, 2018

The California State Athletic Commission on Tuesday voted to grant Jon Jones a temporary license to compete and remove him from the suspension list. He is now fully cleared to fight Alexander Gustafsson in the UFC 232 main event on Dec. 29 in Las Vegas, pending medical approval by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

CSAC Executive Director Andy Foster opened what became a lengthy discussion by stating, “I am here to support this man’s right to make a living. My recommendation right off the bat is this man gets a license, a temporary license, while he provides a community service plan that is laid out to the commission. But ultimately, my goal as your executive officer is this man walk out of this room and he can fight Alexander Gustafsson in two and a half weeks, or however long it is, in Las Vegas.

Jones initially defeated Daniel Cormier in the UFC 214 main event on July 29, 2017, in Anaheim, Calif. The result was later changed by the CSAC to a no contest after Jones was shown to have tested positive for Turanibol, an anabolic steroid. The commission also revoked Jones’ license to compete and fined him $205,000.

Jones also faced adjudication by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which administers the UFC’s Anti-Doping Policy. Jones was eventually found by an independent arbitrator to not have intentionally cheated and had an 18-month suspension reduced to 15 months, which was retroactive to July 28, 2017, and thus completed on Oct. 28, 2018.

The CSAC voted unanimously to grant Jones a temporary license and remove him from the suspension list to clear his path to fight Gustafsson at year’s end. Surprisingly, the commission also paved the way for Jones to voluntarily complete further drug testing to essentially help clear his name when it came to the anti-doping charges leveled against him.

Jones’ license was temporarily granted based on him submitting and completing an element of community service in conjunction with Foster, to which he was prepared for and agreed.

A surprising element, even to other members of the commission, was broached by Commissioner Martha Shen-Urquidez, who suggested that Jones submit to additional testing by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency, which is a third-party drug testing agency that is independent from fight promotions and state agencies.

“You and I both know that there is a large number of people that still have some doubts. It’s not just a little bit of doubt, but there are people that have serious doubts over this. I, for one, would like to put those doubts to sleep and to put them away once and for all, and for people to believe you that you are that talented and that you can win a fight, just clean, and to put those doubts away once and for all,” Shen-Urquidez said in making her suggestion.

“I’m just gonna put it out there and see if you will agree to it, and that is for the next, three, four months, whatever it is, if you will agree to sign up for the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency, and if my colleagues will agree, maybe the California State Athletic Commission can pay for it. You belong to VADA for the next four months, whatever it is. You don’t have to agree to that, but if you agree to it, there will be no question, and if you sign up for it in the next few days through the next fight then there will be nobody, nobody that will doubt that you are the clean fighter.”

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Jones conferred with his attorney, Howard Jacobs, and agreed to the VADA testing in principle with the stipulation that his attorney would have to be informed of the details and requirements of VADA’s process before Jones gives a final affirmative. 

If all parties agree and Jones moves forward with VADA testing, which would be in addition to any separate testing required by the NSAC, which has jurisdiction over the Gustafsson bout, and USADA, the commission approved a plan to also pay for the testing.

The cost of the testing would be paid for out of Jones’ $205,000 fine, which he paid in full on Tuesday. Whatever amount that is would then be reimbursed to Jones, essentially reducing the total amount of his fine.

It should be made clear, the VADA testing would be voluntary, and if Jones declines, it would not affect that status of his license.

Following the CSAC’s unanimous vote in the affirmative, Foster declared, “Mr. Jones is authorized to have a temporary license and to get off the suspension list.”

With the CSAC hearing now behind him, Jones faces only the usual hurdles to fight Gustafsson at UFC 232 on Dec. 29 in Las Vegas.