The MMA world was rocked this week when it was learned one of the top fighters in the world failed a drug test in December. UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones tested positive Dec. 4 for a chemical found in cocaine. Just days after the story broke, Jones checked into a rehab facility.
Here’s what you need to know about it.
1. Jones Tested Positive for Benzoylecgonine
Benzoylecgonine is a chemical compound found in cocaine. His test on Dec. 4 came back positive for this compound on Dec. 23rd, but the result was not publicly released. Although there could have been some speculation as to why and how benzoylecgonine got into his urine, (the compound isn’t only found in cocaine) those questions were answered when Jones checked into a rehab facility on Jan. 6. He apologized to his family, friends, fight camp, and said he is taking rehab “very seriously” in a statement.
2. Jones Probably Won’t be Suspended from UFC
The test came back on Dec. 23 and the UFC knew that Jones failed the test before his fight on Jan. 3. So why wasn’t the fight cancelled? It wasn’t cancelled because Jones was tested during an “out-of-competition” window. Drugs of recreational abuse like marijuana and cocaine are not banned during this time. They are only banned during “competition” time, which is defined as 12 hours before and after a fight.
Drugs of the performance-enhancing (PED) type are banned in both competition and out-of-competition tests. These rules are according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) which is separate from the UFC’s own Code of Conduct that can also be used to suspend fighters. Dana White has already said that UFC will wait until post-fight test results come back before any decisions are made in terms of a possible punishment.
3. It’s All About the Money for the UFC
Last year wasn’t a great one for the UFC. In fact, it might have been the worst year it’s had since before the Chuck Liddell/Tito Ortiz era. Numerous fights were rescheduled or cancelled, PPV buys were down, and S&P downgraded the credit rating of its parent company due to its “volatility.” The UFC most certainly needed to open 2015 in a big way.
It can be argued that had Jones vs. Cormier been cancelled because of the failed drug test, the implications could have been disastrous for both the struggling UFC and the host city of Las Vegas.
4. MMA Fighters Have Been Critical of the UFC’s Drug Policy
Several fighters have come out swinging this week. They’ve taken aim at the UFC and Jones for downplaying the seriousness of the failed drug test, the alleged use of cocaine by another fighter, and the league’s weak reaction to Jones’s drug problem.
The UFC released the following statement on Jones when he announced he was going into rehab:
“We support UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones’ decision to enter a drug treatment facility to address his recent issue. While we are disappointed in the failed test, we applaud him for making this decision to enter a drug treatment facility. Jon is a strong, courageous fighter inside the Octagon, and we expect him to fight this issue with the same poise and diligence. We commend him on his decision, and look forward to him emerging from this program a better man as a result.”
5. Jones May be Tested for Other Drugs Now
The cocaine test might be the least of Jones’s problems. Suspicions of him using performance-enhancing drugs are surfacing especially following red flags in reported testosterone levels.
Jones’s T/E ratio was also alarmingly low. He was tested twice; .29/1 and .35/1. What does this mean exactly? It means that the testosterone to epi-testosterone levels were not at all aligned with what you would expect from someone who is a professional athlete. The normal or average ratio for a 25-30 year old male would be 1:1. Jones' low levels indicate that he was either very sick (perhaps from his cocaine abuse) or more likely that he has been on a synthetic testosterone cycle, which is banned by both the NSAC and the UFC.
When a fighter is on TRT injections, their bodies stop naturally producing the hormone on their own, making that person rely on synthetic forms of the hormone to bring it back to normal levels. Everything about these low levels screams that Jones was on some type of TRT, so his troubles may be far from over.