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Why Jones was allowed to fight at UFC 182

Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports breaks down exactly why Jones was allowed to fight Daniel Cormier on January 3rd.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

When news broke of Jon Jones' failed drug test in the run up to UFC 182, one of the biggest questions on the minds of fans was, "Why was Jon Jones allowed to fight?". In general, sentences for failed drug tests have ranged from suspensions to overturned wins, to large fines. For many, Jones' ability to walk into his UFC 182 bout without issue or penalty seems to fly in the face of past precedent. Kevin Iole of Yahoo sports (who broke the story of Jones' habit/rehab) has published an article to explain why that's not necessarily the case, and why exactly UFC 182 went ahead as planned, despite the AC knowing of Jones' failed test before hand.

One of the first major points, Iole argues, is that, unlike their fine and suspension of boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (who tested positive for marijuana metabolites and was subsequently fined nearly a $1 million), the fact that Jones was out of competition left the commission with very little power. In Iole's own words:

It's all very complicated, but the Nevada commission is hardly comprised of the unenlightened fools that reporters and fans are making its five members out to be.

The Nevada commission did nothing because it had no legal authority to do anything.


Nevada follows the World Anti-Doping Agency code on drug testing matters. In the 2015 WADA Code, it defines in-competition and out-of-competition testing - a very important distinction.

According to Appendix One of the WADA code, in-competition is defined thusly:

"Unless provided otherwise in the rules of an international Federation or the ruling body of the event in question, 'In-Competition' means the period commencing twelve hours before a Competition in which the athlete is scheduled to participate through the end of such Competition and the Sample collection process related to such Competition."

Interestingly, Iole also notes that, given the Jones was not "in competition," there was no reason that this particular test should have been performed on him and that it was most likely done so in error. However, given the knowledge of the failed test, the NSAC proceeded to test Jones again, pre-fight.

Nonetheless, the commission had Jones tested a second time about a week later. Commission chairman Francisco Aguilar said he is not certain of the exact date of the second test, but said it was "about a week later, Dec. 11 or Dec. 12."

Jones passed that test, meaning the cocaine metabolites were out of his system.

Of course, the second major question here is "If the NSAC couldn't do anything, certainly the UFC could have, right?" No, not really. As Iole explains:

However, the UFC doesn't appear to have had the ability to pull Jones from the bout. Given that Jones did not violate any rules, he had a signed contract and was ready, willing, able and eager to fight.

Had the UFC attempted to yank him from the card, Jones could easily have sought an injunction to permit him to fight, and he would have had a strong case.

Because Jones hadn't violated any regulations for competition under NSAC guidelines, and because he had a bout agreement already signed, the UFC could have found themselves in real hot water if they pulled Jones off the card. Thus, even armed with the knowledge of a failed drug test, and even if the UFC themselves knew of it, there's very little that the NSAC or Zuffa could have done to stop UFC 182, without putting themselves at severe legal risk. There's a lot more than what I outlined above in Iole's article, so check out the whole thing here.

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