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Former UFC champion Jon Jones eligible to return in October after receiving retroactive 15-month ban

Jon Jones attends a UFC 200 mixed martial

Jon Jones attends a UFC 200 mixed martial arts news conference, Wednesday, July 6, 2016, in Las Vegas.  Credit: AP/John Locher

Jon Jones is getting another chance.

On Wednesday, the former UFC light heavyweight champion was handed a 15-month ban for his second violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, according to an announcement by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

The ban will be retroactive to the date his positive sample was collected, meaning he will be eligible to resume his career on Oct. 28 of this year.

According to USADA, an independent arbitrator determined Jones should receive a 15-month sanction. Jones had faced a ban of up to four years for the offense under the UFC's policy, but USADA determined a 30-month reduction of his ban was appropriate "based on Jones' delivery of substantial assistance." The arbitrator reduced the sentence further based on "Jones’ reduced degree of fault and the circumstances of the case," according to the announcement.

“The independent arbitrator found that Jon Jones was not intentionally cheating in this case, and while we thought 18-months was the appropriate sanction given the other circumstances of the case, we respect the arbitrator’s decision and believe that justice was served,” said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart in the announcement. “This case is another strong reminder that athletes need to be extremely cautious about the products and supplements they use to ensure they are free of prohibited substances.”

Jones thanked "those who have stood by" him in a pair of tweets Wednesday evening.

"It’s difficult to express myself at this moment but I can definitely say my heart is filled with gratitude and appreciation. I want to thank all of you who have stood by me during the toughest stretch of my life," Jones tweeted. "It has meant the world to me and always will. But now is the time to shift the focus front and center to the road ahead. Greatness is what I’m chasing and the path to reclaiming my throne is now officially open. Comeback Season begins now."

Jones tested positive for the steroid Turinabol during an in-competition test conducted by USADA after he weighed in on Friday, July 28, 2017, one day before his fight against light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 in Anaheim.

Jones was reported to have passed all other pre-fight and post-fight tests by USADA, which administers the UFC’s anti-doping policy.

Jones beat Cormier by third-round knockout in that fight to reclaim the light heavyweight championship. After his B sample also tested positive for Turinabol last September, Jones was stripped of the title. It was the third time he’s had the title taken away from him because of various infractions. Cormier was reinstated as the champion and has defended it once since. (He also won the heavyweight title from Stipe Miocic in mid July.)

In February 2018, the California State Athletic Commission revoked Jones’ license and fined him $205,000. after his failed doping test last year.

Jones also tested positive for two banned substances in July 2016, just three days before he was supposed to challenge Cormier for the title at UFC 200. He was suspended for one year. Since the latest positive test was Jones’ second offense, he faced a ban of up to four years.

With Mark La Monica

New York Sports