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USADA hands Jon Jones 1-year suspension for pre-UFC 200 drug test failure

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The UFC’s interim light heavyweight champion is going to be cooling his heels on the sidelines for at least a year following his arbitration hearing.

Interim UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones Press Conference Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It’s hard to say how much arbitration helped Jon Jones in his case against USADA. The former undisputed light heavyweight champ - and current interim champ - sat down with his lawyer for a hearing in Los Angeles on Monday, October 31st in the hopes of finding a more suitable punishment from USADA following his failed drug test in the lead up to UFC 200.

Armed with potential evidence of contaminated “sexual-performance” pills, Jones’ attorney, Howard Jacobs, said that he was relatively “happy” with how the hearing played out last week. It’s hard to think they’ll be feeling the same way now.

MMA Fighting reported the arbitrators’ decision on Monday, November 7th, and it appears that Jones will be getting the full year-long suspension he had been initially facing. Jones will apparently be eligible to return to competition in July 2017, a year out from the date the test results came in.

"On the evidence before the Panel, the Applicant is not a drug cheat," the arbitrators wrote in their epilogue. "He did not know that the tablet he took contained prohibited substances or that those substances had the capacity to enhance sporting performance. However by his imprudent use of what he pungently referred to as a 'dick pill' he has not only lost a year of his career but an estimated nine million dollars. This outcome which he admits to be a wake-up call for him should serve as a warning to all others who participate in the same sport."

The panel went so far as to say that Jones’ “degree of fault in fact verged on reckless.” as he made no attempts to verify the pill’s ingredients or potential contamination, beyond asking the teammate who gave it to him if it worked as a sexual stimulant.

MMA Fighting also reports that, unlike Yoel Romero and Tim Means - who recieved six month suspensions for tainted supplement use - Jones’ case did not fit the “classic” model of an athlete taking contaimated supplements that contained unlisted, banned substances. And thus, he’s receiving a punishment “at the top end of the scale.”

This may also be a sharp lesson for future athletes hoping to use arbitration to soften the blow of a USADA suspension. Not only is the process costly, but in the end it doesn’t seem to have paid off for Jones.