Jon Jones has been handed a 15-month suspension from an independent arbitrator who ruled on his case following hearing after the former UFC light heavyweight champion failed a drug test in 2017.
The decision was announced by USADA on Wednesday following a hearing that took place on Sept. 15.
Jones will be eligible to fight again after Oct. 28.
According to USADA, Jones tested positive for “4-chloro-18-nor-17β-hydroxymethyl,17α-methyl-5α-androst-13-en-3α-ol (M3), a metabolite of dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (DHCMT), or another chlorine-substituted anabolic steroid”. Anabolic steroids are banned at all times in athletes.
USADA officials say they asked for a 18-month suspension but ultimately the independent arbitrator offered Jones a reduced sentence due to the circumstances surrounding his case including he was “tested on multiple occasions leading up to UFC 214, and as recently as three weeks prior to the event, all of which yielded negative results for prohibited substances.”
At the end of the day, the independent arbitrator Richard McLaren, chief arbitrator from McLaren Global Sport Solutions, Inc, decided that Jones didn’t intentionally cheat and handed down a lesser sentence for his punishment.
“The independent arbitrator found that Jon Jones was not intentionally cheating in this case, and while we thought 18-months was the appropriate sanction given the other circumstances of the case, we respect the arbitrator’s decision and believe that justice was served,” USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said in a statement released on Wednesday.
“This case is another strong reminder that athletes need to be extremely cautious about the products and supplements they use to ensure they are free of prohibited substances.”
The full findings from the arbitration can be found here.
Jones had maintained his innocence throughout the process after his drug test results were revealed last year. The reduction in Jones’ sentence was also a result of him providing “substantial assistance to USADA or another anti-doping organization, criminal authority or professional disciplinary body which results in…bringing forward an anti-doping violation by another person”. In other words, Jones assisted USADA by revealing information about someone else committing a doping violation.
The California State Athletic Commission had previously revoked Jones’ license, fined him $205,000 and overturned his win against Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 to a no contest.
Now he’s been handed a 15-month suspension after he was previously suspended for one year for his first failed drug test when one of Jones’ samples was flagged in the days leading up to UFC 200 in 2016.
Jones will be eligible to return after Oct. 28, which means the UFC may look to book him into a fight as soon as possible. Jones has stayed in training while awaiting this outcome from USADA and now the former champion will be able to resume his career in just about six weeks time.