Jon Jones will not be returning to the Octagon until July, 2017, at the earliest.
The light-heavyweight star has been suspended by an independent arbitration panel for one year, as a result of Jones’ positive test for the banned substances hydroxy-clomiphene and Letrozole this past summer. “Bones” was scheduled to fight champ Daniel Cormier on July 9th at UFC 200, but was pulled from the bout, after USADA informed him of the anti-doping violation.
Jones immediately maintained his innocence, and has repeatedly said he didn’t knowingly take PEDs. Then more recently, his lawyer reported that tests confirmed Jones had taken a contaminated product, which was responsible for his positive test.
Well, the arbitrators reportedly acknowledged that the tests prove Jones didn’t mean to take banned substances. But, they did conclude Jones acted recklessly by taking the product, which apparently was a sexual performance enhancement pill, without verifying it’s ingredients.
Following the panel’s decision, Jones released the following statement through his management (statement via MMA Fighting.com):
“Although I was hopeful for a better outcome in the USADA ruling today, I am very respectful of the process in which they allowed me to defend myself. I have always maintained my innocence and I am very happy I have been cleared in any wrong doing pursuant to the allegations made that I had intentionally taken a banned substance. I am pleased that in USADA’s investigation they determined I was “not a cheater of the sport”. Being cleared of these allegations was very important to me. I have worked hard in and outside of the octagon to regain my image and my fighting career and will take these next eight months to continue my training and personal growth both as a man and a athlete. Thank you to all of my fans, teammates, coaches, sponsors and to the UFC for their continued support.”
So, Jones suspension is retroactive and he’ll be eligible to return next July. This would require that the Nevada State Athletic Commission doesn’t suspend Jones for a longer time. The NSAC is not required to follow the panel’s ruling.
Cormier will face Anthony Johnson on December 10th at UFC 206. So, it will be interesting to see if the UFC waits until next summer, before the 205 belt is up for grabs again.