Jon Jones' redemption story has hit yet another disappointing end.
The UFC light heavyweight champion, less than one month removed from a TKO of Daniel Cormier to regain his title, tested positive for a banned substance stemming from an in-competition sample collected immediately following the UFC 214 weigh-in on July 28.
UFC president Dana White, who is expected to speak with media members late Tuesday, shot down reports that Jones, 30, had been immediately stripped of his belt and that Cormier was reinstated as champion. White told MMAFighting.com that Jones must go through "a process" first.
UFC released the following statement Tuesday night.
The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Jon Jones of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an in-competition sample collected following his weigh-in on July 28, 2017.
USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Jones, as it relates to the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and future UFC participation. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) also retains jurisdiction over this matter as the sample collection was performed the day before Jones' bout at UFC 214 in Anaheim, CA, and USADA will work to ensure that the CSAC has the necessary information to determine its proper judgment of Jones' potential anti-doping violation.
Jones' manager responded with a statement shortly thereafter, as provided to MMAFighting.com.
We are all at a complete loss for words right now. Jon, his trainers, his nutritionists and his entire camp have worked tirelessly and meticulously the past 12 months to avoid this exact situation. We are having the samples tested again to determine the validity or source of contamination. Jon is crushed by this news and we are doing whatever we can as a team, to support him.
The news of Jones' failed sample was first reported by TMZ, which claimed that Jones tested positive for the anabolic steroid Turinabol. That would carry a two-year suspension from the USADA for first-time offenders and up to four years for a multiple-time offender.
Jones (23-1) is just over one month removed from completing a one-year USADA suspension, which he received after testing positive for banned substances clomiphene and letrozol. That positive test resulted in him being pulled from the UFC 200 main event last July.
The changing of narrative couldn't have come at a worse time for UFC, which needs Jones' star power now more than ever amid struggling pay-per-view sales in 2017 while under new ownership. But the news is most damaging to Jones' legacy.
The head-kick knockout of Cormier appeared to remove Jones from cautionary tale status after he lost two years of his career. It also reaffirmed his status as not just the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world but to many the greatest in mixed martial arts history.
Now, this latest news has reduced Jones to at best a cheater and at worst a fraud, calling much of his career into question.
Jones is the only UFC champion ever to be stripped of his title for disciplinary reasons when a 2015 arrest for hit-and-run charges saw his personal life spiral out of control. He was then stripped of his interim title last July after the failed drug test. He appears on his way to strike three.