Jon Jones denied knowingly taking a performance-enhancing substance at a news conference Thursday morning in Las Vegas, hours after he was removed from Saturday’s UFC 200 main event for a potential doping violation.
“Supposedly, they found something in one of my samples,” Jones said. “I have no clue what it is. I don’t even know how to pronounce it.”
Jones tested positive for a banned substance in an out-of-competition sample taken June 16 by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which administers the UFC’s testing.
Malki Kawa, Jones’ manager, declined at Thursday’s news conference to specify what substance the former light heavyweight champion was flagged for, saying only that it was a metabolite, meaning a small amount of molecules. Kawa said Jones’ “B” sample, a second sample from June 16 collection, is scheduled to be tested on Thursday. Jones, 28, faces a possible multi-year suspension.
Jones (22-1) was scheduled to fight light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 in what is considered the biggest fight card in UFC history. Jones beat Cormier in January 2015, and their rematch was scheduled for last April before Cormier was forced to withdraw with an injury.
“I want to first start by apologizing to all the fans, all the fans who came out to support me for UFC 200, obviously the UFC, the Fertittas, for not being able to perform,” Jones said. “I want to apologize to Daniel Cormier. I know this fight meant a lot to him.”
Jones was in his hotel room Wednesday night, getting ready to cut weight before Friday’s weigh-ins, when he received the phone call about the potential doping violation.
“It was a pretty devastating thing to find out,” Jones said. “My attitude was just to continue to fight, just try to be positive and optimistic. I feel like I have to reclimb a ladder.”
Jones has been tested by USADA eight times since the program began in 2015, and Kawa said this is the first positive test. Jones was tested six times in 2016, including three times since April. Jones said he has taken the same supplements for most of his career, and that for this camp, he also tried “a few things that have nothing to do with performance.” He did not mention any of those products.
“I have been so outspoken about being against any type of performance-enhancers and I still to this day am against performance-enhancers,” Jones said. “Being labeled as someone who would cheat hurts me more than anything I’ve been through in my career.”
Jones, visibly emotional throughout the question and answer session, fought back tears at several times. There were long pauses and Jones struggled to find answers. At one point, he even walked out of the media room at the MGM Grand. He returned six minutes later.
“Even though I may seem broken up here, I’m not broken,” Jones said. “I’m just really upset. I’ve been through a lot to get to this point, I’m not gonna let this slow me down.”
Considered one of if not the best mixed martial arts fighter in the sport’s history, Jones has had his share of trangressions. In 2012, he was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated after crashing his car into a pole in Binghamton. Jones received probation and community service.
In December 2014, Jones tested positive for cocaine metabolites in an out-of-competition test. He was allowed to compete at UFC 182 where he beat Cormier for his eighth consecutive title defense.
In April 2015, he was arrested and charged with a felony for leaving the scene of an accident in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was stripped of his UFC title and suspended indefinitely. Jones pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving injury and received 18 months of supervised probation in September. The deal kept a felony conviction off his record. Jones’ suspension was lifted by the UFC in October 2015.