USADA arbitrator reduces Jon Jones suspension, will be back in UFC by October

September 19, 2018

USADA has handed Jon Jones a 15-month suspension for his failed drug test at UFC 214 in July 2017.  The arbitration decision means that Jones will be eligible to fight in the UFC this October.

Jones was represented at his hearing by experienced doping attorney Paul Greene.  He was also represented by Peter S. Christensen of Las Vegas.  Notably, Howard Jacobs was Jones’ attorney at his first arbitration hearing and at the California State Athletic Commission hearing regarding his second failed USADA test earlier this year.  The arbitrator was Richard McLaren.

Final Redacted Award Jones … by on Scribd

Unlike other arbitration hearings, the parties entered into a Joint Stipulated Factual Resolution and Arbitration Agreement.

Despite the fact that Jones was facing the potential of a four-year suspension for his second infraction under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, the arbitrator reduced his suspension by 30 months based on Jones’ cooperation with USADA in attempting to determine the cause for his failed drug test.  McLaren could have reduced it down to 12 months but determined that Jones could have done other things to mitigate his risk.

The arbitrator determined that based on the UFC Anti-Doping Violations rules that it need not determine the source of the finding to determine fault.  Therefore, regardless of how the illicit substance ended up in Jones’ system, it is not necessary to how it was ingested for them to determine fault.  But here, the arbitrator determined that Jones’ liability to be minimal.  Although, the arbitrator does suggest that Jones could have done more to prevent the violation, he does not think the infraction aided him in his performance.  “There was absolutely no intention to use Prohibited Substances on the part of the Athlete [Jones],” wrote the arbitrator.

The arbitrator noted that Jones seemed contrite for his wrongdoing.

There is the possibility that the CSAC still may rule on a suspension for Jones.  It has revoked his license and fined him $205,000.  But, it would seem that any further suspension of time from eligibility

Payout Perspective:

A week ago USADA felt compelled to address rumors that it was being paid off to reinstate Jon Jones.  Perhaps now we know the reasons behind the statement.  The ruling seems to be made in a vacuum when looking at the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and Jones’ prior arbitration hearing.  The decision seemed to neglect his prior indiscretions, his mistakes admitted in the first arbitration and his California State Athletic Commission hearing where he readily admitted that his management team falsified documents on his behalf so that he would not have to do the educational component of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  All that being said, Jones had a viable case but the facts seemed to be against him knowing he had a prohibited substance in his system and this was his second drug test failure which would connote a four-year suspension.

Overall, I don’t think UFC fans mind that Jon Jones is coming back sooner than later to the octagon.  Its just the matter that the policy seemed to bend over backward and then look away from the way it adhered to its policy with other fighters.  Its true that Jones will be suspended 15 months before coming back to the UFC, but this was his second strike and with a history of reckless disregard for the rules this shows flexibility for athletes that can produce the company revenue.

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