UFC 232 Move, Failed Test For Jones, Needs To Raise Questions.

There comes a time for every professional sporting league to either piss or get the the pot. I know this analogy may not be known to all, but basically, if you are going to do something, do it. If not, stop acting like you will. 

Former UFC Lightweight champion Jon Jones, fresh off his 15 month suspension from both the USADA and California, has once again failed a test, and once again, it was for the substance Turinabol. This is the 3rd reported failed test for Jones, and all have come in a matter of less then 3 years. Over this time, Jones has served a total of 27 months worth of suspension, been pulled from one event, and competed in another, only to have a no contest awarded soon after. 

Jones first failed test came in 2016, prior to his UFC 200 rematch with Daniel Cormier, set to take place in Nevada. On June 16, Jones was tested by the USADA, and on July 6, the results came back positive for the banned estrogen blockers clomiphene and letrozole. Following the finding and subsequent suspension, the UFC released the following statement:

“UFC is aware of the one-year sanction levied against Jon Jones as a result of his UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation, decided by a three-person arbitration panel held on Monday, October 31, 2016,” the statement reads. “UFC has been advised that the one-year suspension commenced on Wednesday, July 6, 2016. While the decision indicates no evidence of Jones’ intentional use of banned substances, it does highlight the care and diligence that is required by athletes competing in the UFC to ensure that no prohibited substances enter their system.”

Regardless of the blowback by many, Jones’ defence of a tainted Cialis was a plausible enough argument, and for the sake of neutrality, people do make mistakes. When Jones was able to return to action, he was immediately booked against Cormier again, this time at UFC 214. Looking to put the accusations and embarrassment behind him, Jones would finish Cormier in the third round to reclaim his Light Heavyweight title.

But only days after this win, news surfaced of another failed drug test from Jones, this time for the anabolic-androgenic steroid Turinabol. The failed test was administered following the official UFC 214 weigh-ins, so Jones was able to compete This was a confusing situation however, as Jones passed all the pre fights test leading up to this, but his “B” sample also came back positive.

Once again, Jones claimed he had no idea how this substance was in his system, but the USADA and California State Athletic Commission ultimately agreed to a term of 15 months suspension. It should be noted that the USADA pushed for 30 months, but independent arbitrator Richard McLaren deemed 15 months acceptable, and all parties involved followed suit. A statement released by the USADA reads as follows:

“USADA announced today that an independent arbitrator has rendered a decision in the case of Jon Jones, of Rochester, N.Y., and determined that Jones should receive a 15-month sanction for his second violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy. This decision comes after the facts of the case were presented and fully argued at an evidentiary hearing on September 15, 2018,”

“Jones, 31, tested positive for a prohibited substance as result of a sample collected during the in-competition testing period on July 28, 2017, before his bout at UFC 214 in Anaheim, Calif., an event sanctioned by the California Athletic Commission.

“Jones’ sample contained 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.”

“Chlorine-substituted anabolic steroids, including DHCMT, are non-Specified Substances in the class of Anabolic Agents and prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.”

Now before we move on to the latest issue involving Jones, let’s touch on two points.

CSAC Executive Director Andy Foster, the man behind the last Jones fiasco and punishment in California, recently took the the media to question the USADA, credit to MMAJunkie:

“I think it’s good to have doping controls. I think this process was a wreck, and I think we learned from the process. If we keep doing this to the fighters, that’s not serving the public interest.”

“It’s not exactly a conflict, but it’s kind of a conflict. I’m not saying they do, but … there’s a perception of a conflict. They have a vested interest in making sure their science is right.

“Please understand, I’m not saying (they have a conflict of interest). But there’s a perception there, and I am saying this: I do believe there’s been quite a few cases that could have been solved quicker and cheaper and got the same results instead of going through this long, arduous process.”

“The main thing is we’re not going to yield executive discretion over fighters’ livelihood to a third-party drug testing company who has a potential – not saying its real – conflict,” he said.”

It seems very ironic and hypocritical for the head of a SAC to question the potential conflict of an agency such as the USADA, while the state of California, and many others, were solely responsible for the testing and punishment of fighters for years. What conflict does the USADA have in handing out punishment, as well as testing, when they entered a partnership with the UFC to do exactly this? If anything, many have questioned the USADA simply because the UFC is paying them for this service, and believe that the UFC can dictate what results are given and when by the USADA. 

The second issue is the statement made by CSAC commissioner Martha Shen-Urquidez to Jones during a December 11th hearing. Shen-Urqiuidez, stated to Jones that he should consider enrolling himself into VADA, the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. She assured Jones that the commission would reimburse him for the cost of 8-10 tests, approximately $18-20000 dollars in total, should he choose to do so.

VADA, run by former NSAC doctor Margaret Goodman, does not release test results to anyone but the acting commission sanctioning the bout, which wold follow suit in regards to Foster’s comments of the state punishing the accused fighter. Jones ultimately declined the invitation, stating that while he agreed, he needed to see the fine print and details of the testing. 

At this same hearing, California granted Jones a licence to compete within the state, easing his motion to receive the same from the state of Nevada. And this leads us to now.

On December 9th, Jones was apparently flagged again for the substance Turinabol. With less than a week until UFC 232, Jones’ was in a deep hole attempting to receive a license in Nevada, home of the event, with this failed test hanging over his head. So rather then let the SAC in Nevada do a proper investigation and clear, or catch, Jones, the UFC has decided to pick the entire card up and move it west…to California. Yes, that California, home of Andy Foster, who seemed far too eager to welcome Jones back…two days after Jones failed test In Nevada, which was conducted by the USADA. If something seems a little too convenient about the circumstances surrounding this, it is probably for good reason. 

The official results of this test read as the prohibited substance 4-chloro-18-nor-17β-hydroxymethyl,17α-methyl-5α-androst-13-en-3α-ol (M3), taken from an out of competition sample on December 9th. If this seems like something you have seen before, Jones was flagged for 4-chloro-18-nor-17β-hydroxymethyl,17α-methyl-5α-androst-13-en-3α-ol (M3) following UFC 214. 

The official statement from the USADA on this test reads as follows:

Now, it does seem like a very, very small amount was found in his system, and in most cases, this would be almost nothing to most. But when the USADA says that the positive test stems from residual amounts from prior testing, questions need to be asked.

One, why did Jones pass every test administered this year by the USADA yet fail this one weeks out from the event? Two, does this not seem oddly similar to his situation at UFC 214, no fails until the day before, which led to a 15 month suspension, for the exact substance? And three, does this give Jones a virtual carte blanche moving forward in regards to testing? 

A statement from UFC vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky did not clear anything up:

“There’s been no violation of the anti-doping program. He’s been cleared to fight in terms of the USADA program. … USADA fully analyzed it internally. They reached out to outside experts from around the world. They reached out to another sports league that has seen the same issue. And all of them, independent of us, determined that this was not a re-ingestion of the substance and this very, very small amount that was occurring and still showing up, according to these expects from around the world, did not provide any performance-enhancing benefit.”

“Not much is known about this longterm metabolite. The parent compound is not approved for human use anywhere in the world … but what both USADA and other entities are seeing is that a recurrence, or potential ‘pulsing,’ where you have multiple negative tests and then a positive one for a very low amount – they’re seeing that quite commonly over time. And no one knows how long this could last – it could potentially last forever (in Jones’ system).”

If the parent compund is not approved for human use anywhere in the world, how did Jones get in from some tainted supplement in the first place, and how did it go dormant for months and months until now?

For those who may not know, Turinabol, officially known as Chlorodehydromethyltestosterone or CDMT, was the drug given to thousands of East German athletes over a 20 year period. This is the same drug that was retested by the IOC for both the Beijing and London Summer Olympics. A 2011 method for detection of long term metabolites of CDMT, created by Grigory Rodchenkov, was used to retest samples by the IOC in 2016, found here:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0960076011002238?via%3Dihub

How can a drug that altered the world of sports so drastically over the last 40 years be dismissed as residue and some unknown entity, after it was apparently taken mistakenly? The long lasting effects of the substance has been attributed to long term use, or at least heavy doses for a period of time, so neither exactly explain how a trace amount was found well over a year after a trace amount was found originally. 

The original drug king in pro sports, Victor Conte, had an interesting, and plausible reason for Jones failed tests, stating that Jones could have been micro-dosing testosterone which was mixed with Turinabol. While the video of this statement has been removed from many sources, this isn’t the first time Conte has spoken up on Jones.

Prior to his UFC 182 meeting with Cormier, Jones’ had several tests done to measure both testosterone and testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) levels. While Cormier came back with levels of 0.40:1 and 0.48:1 T/E and 50 ng/ml and 70 ng/ml testosterone, Jones came back with levels of 0.29:1, 0.35:1 and 0.19:1 T/E, well below the normal ratio (1.3:1) for an average African-American male, according to Conte. Jones testosterone levels were also 1.8 ng/mL, 0.59 ng/mL and 4.9 ng/mL; the average level for a male is 61.3 ng/ML.

According to Conte:

“If they see a deviation in the T/E ratio of greater than 30 percent, there is something up. That’s a red flag. If you look at Daniel [Cormier’s] two ratios, they were .42 and .47; that’s about an eight percent deviation. If you look at the numbers for Jon Jones, his was basically an 80 percent deviation. His is suspicious and Daniel Cormier’s is not. It’s not just that he’s got very low [testosterone] levels, much lower than Daniel. Daniel’s are normal, his are extremely low.”

“The question is what was suppressing his testosterone production for that period of time. Something caused it to go down, and I do not believe it was overtraining, Exogenous testosterone and other steroids in a period of time, depending on dosage and method of administration, can completely shut your testosterone and epitestosterone levels in urine to 0….The levels being low there can be many explanations. [People say], ‘Well maybe it’s because he was taking cocaine.’ There’s no solid science out there that shows cocaine lowers testosterone.

“Typically without using drugs with black males, 50 to 150 would be the normal range [for testosterone], compared to Jon Jones came back his highest level was 4.9. Even on the low end he’s only got 10 percent of that. It’s really, really low. It wasn’t just that one time. The first part of December when he tested again the second time it’s still relatively low. Those are in my opinion just highly suspicious, very, very low levels.”

Now why does this matter you ask? Well, use of anabolic androgenic steroids, (AAS), such as Turinabol, has been shown to lower testosterone levels. UFC 182, when these numbers were collected, took place in January of 2015. The UFC’s partnership with the USADA began in July of 2015, and the test for an AAS such as Turinabol, while prevalent in states such as Nevada and California, was not as strict as the one created by Rodchenkov which was used by the IOC in 2016. It is completely possible, as many athletes have done, and admitted to, that Jones was able to micro cycle the AAS before the USADA came into play, and once it did, well, we have seen the tests since. Don’t forget that since UFC 182, Jones has competed twice, and was flagged in one of them. 

In 2015, Jones was tested a total of 2 times, according to the USADA website. in 2016, he was tested 7 times, 9 times in 2017, and 10 times in 2018, one of which was obviously the failed test. Jones was also tested 6 times in the final two quarters of 2017, so out of 16 tests since his failed Turinabol test, he failed only one, yet this failed test is being blamed on residue from over a year ago? 

Something simply does not add up here, besides the always money first motto from the UFC. If this is how the testing protocol will be handled moving forward, why bother having it at all? And yes, the USADA has released a statement, but it does not address some very basic questions. If they will now look for reasons why someone didn’t use something, rather than punish or at least give time to investigate matters, it’s a lost cause that never seemed to ever truly get started anyway.

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Jasyn Zangari

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