An abnormality in a pre-fight drug test taken by former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has forced UFC to move Saturday's UFC 232 pay-per-view from Las Vegas to just outside of Los Angeles. Jones's drug test showed a trace amount of turinabol, the banned substance that saw him suspended 15 months by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, remained in his system. The USADA referred to it as "an extremely low level," concluding that it is a residual amount "from his prior exposure for which he was previously sanctioned."
This news comes just six days before Jones is slated to make his return to the Octagon in the main event of UFC 232 to face Alexander Gustafsson for the light heavyweight title.
Jones will still compete on Saturday, but in order to do so, UFC needed to move the entire card from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to The Forum in Inglewood, California. UFC president Dana White told multiple outlets Sunday that the Nevada State Athletic Commission will not be able to rule on Jones's fight license due to the holiday, though the California State Athletic Commission, which is familiar with Jones's prior testing failure and the USADA results this time around, will grant him a license.
The USADA's description of the result as "an extremely low level" only begins to describe what appeared on the test. Jeff Novitzky, UFC's vice president of health and performance, explained that there was only a "picogram" of the substance found in Jones's sample.
"A picogram is a one-trillionth of a gram," Novitzky explained, according to MMA Junkie. "If you put one grain of salt on the table and split it up into 50 million pieces, a picogram is one of those pieces of that gram of salt. These levels have shown up in the single and double digits of picograms – so such a small amount."
As for the moving the event to California upon the findings, the CSAC has performed its due diligence in regards to hosting the event that Jones will main event. In addition to being very familiar with his recent history, CSAC officer Andy Foster told MMA Fighting that the organization contacted experts and confirmed that the minuscule findings were not a result of a recent ingestion but rather a residual amount from substance that led to his prior positive test over a year ago.
"We've got a statement from three difference scientists, from the [WADA-accredited] lab director [at SMRTL in Salt Lake City] saying there's no evidence of any new ingestion," Foster said. "This isn't a new thing. This is what he's been punished for already. He's already served his time on this."
For those who may jump the gun in labeling Jones as dirty once again, Foster simply referred to the former light heavyweight champ as a "clean athlete."
At the end of the day, this situation is more of an inconvenience for all involved -- Jones, Gustaffson, UFC and the other fighters on the card -- than anything else. Gustaffson had been camping in Las Vegas in preparation for the big fight.