Jon Jones at UFC 247

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones appeared to confirm the veracity of a long-rumored story that he hid underneath his gym’s ring in avoidance of drug-testing officials.

In the early hours of October 9, Jones replied to heated rival, red-hot UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, on Twitter during yet another of the two’s verbal spats.

After posting an image of Jones appearing to change clothes he captioned “Well you sleep under the cage, so,” Adesanya, 31, tweeted, “Fun Facts! I napped under the cage in 2010 cuz I didn’t wanna waste gas going home so I stayed at the gym till evening training. [J]onathan stayed under the cage to hide from USADA during a random drug test. This is facts. Y’all must have forgot.”

The 33-year-old Jones retorted, “Brother explain your titty [a reference to recent social media speculation that Adesanya suffered from gynecomastia in his recent victory over Paulo Costa, a symptom at times associated with performance-enhancing drug use]. I was hiding from Nevada [S]tate Athletic Commission, not USADA and that was years ago… I had just smoked a blunt and was afraid I would fail my test for weed that’s the actual truth. Now everyone knows everyone.”

Jones, a controversial figure in the past, has tested positive for banned substances thrice over the course of 2015 to 2018.

In January of 2015, Jones tested positive for cocaine during a Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) drug test ahead of his UFC 183 title defense against nemesis Daniel Cormier. Given that cocaine was not a substance banned out of competition under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code, Jones was permitted to fight.

The then-champion checked himself into a rehab center, and the UFC fined him “$25,000 for violating its Athlete Code of Conduct policy.” Several months later, Jones was stripped of his title following his well-publicized hit-and-run incident in April of 2015.

In June of 2016, Jones, then the UFC interim light heavyweight champion, tested positive for clomiphene and letrozole, two substances banned under Hormone and Metabolic Modulators class of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy. A three-member arbitration panel from McLaren Global Sports Solutions, Inc. (MGSS) concluded that Jones’ degree of fault, a measure used to determine the severity of sanctions, was at “the very top end of the scale,” according to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

Jones disagreed; according to MMA Junkie, “Jones, per the panel’s written decision, admitted to taking a pill he “believed to be… ‘Cialis'” and checked with his agent to make sure it banned, “but which unbeknown, indeed unknowable, by him, was contaminated.”

USADA suspended Jones for a year, and his planned July UFC 200 appearance against Cormier was canceled.

In September of 2018, an independent arbitrator handed down a fifteen-month suspension to Jones for a test positive for a metabolite of dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, an anabolic steroid, according to USADA.

The suspension was originally set to be for 30 months, but the arbitrator reduced the amount of time “based on Jones’ reduced degree of fault and the circumstances of the case, including the fact that Jones had been 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,” per USADA.

The rumors about Jones’ alleged avoidance of an anti-doping test, it follows, have long swirled in mixed martial arts circles.

Fighters such as former Jones opponent Chael Sonnen, the aforementioned Cormier and Adesanya, former Jones collegiate wrestling teammate Colby Covington, as well as UFC commentator and podcast host Joe Rogan, and others, have speculated about the story with varying degrees of certainty.

On a December 2018 episode of the Joe Rogan Experience, directly after the UFC relocated an entire fight card from Las Vegas to California over eligibility concerns for Jones stemming from abnormal test results, Rogan asked UFC Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance, whose prominence of issues pertaining to USADA led to his being nicknamed the “Golden Snitch,” about whether Jones had ever avoided a USADA test, and referred to the alleged incident directly.

Novitsky replied, “Pre-USADA. That was pre-USADA, before I got here. I’ve heard about that; I don’t know details. I don’t know whether it’s true or not. I think it was a Nevada State Athletic Commission test.”

In an August 2016 Submission Radio broadcast, Jones’ coach and one half of JacksonWink MMA’s namesake Mike Winkeljohn, dismissed the claim as untrue: “No, Jon did not hide from that stuff, nor would we want him to do so. It’s completely false,” (H/t MMAMania).

Jones’ tweet states that he “was hiding” not from USADA – with whom the UFC has had an anti-doping partnership since July of 2015 – but the NSAC. According to Jones, he was not doing so to avoid the detection of performance-enhancing drugs in his system, but in an attempt to “fail my test for weed,” a substance infamously banned by the commission.
Jones appeared to end the conversation there, writing, “That’s the actual truth. Now everyone knows everyone.”
It is surprising that Jones, who has been cleared by commission and anti-doping officials of further positive findings they believe stem from his last testing failure, has now decided to release this information considering that the NSAC has taken a remarkably firm stance against test evasion in the past. The commission previously handed down a permanent suspension to Wanderlei Silva in 2016 after it was revealed that he evaded a drug test in 2014.

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