UFC vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky attempted to shed some light on the Jon Jones situation today as a guest on The Joe Rogan Experience. In a wide-ranging interview that went almost two hours, Novitzky explained the reasoning behind why Jones wasn’t punished for his most recent positive test for Turinabol, and revealed that he actually tested positive back in August and September as well.
Novitzky stated that an August 9th test came back clean. On August 29th, a test came back positive for 19 picograms of Turinabol. On September 18th, his test was positive again for 19 picograms. Then his next four tests from late September to early December all came back negative. Finally, on December 9th his test was positive again, this time in the range of 60 to 80 picograms.
Nevada was alerted about this by USADA in early December, according to Novitzky (transcribed by MMA Fighting):
“USADA didn’t need to notify them. They thought, out of an abundance of caution, let’s let Nevada know that this issue exists.
“That’s all good, Nevada gets this. I talk with them, they’re like, ‘Whoa, this is concerning, but we don’t see anything in our jurisdiction here, so I certainly hope that no subsequent tests show up positive because that could be an issue.’ And sure enough, USADA collects a sample from Jon on 12/9, they expedited the results because they knew a fight was coming up and they do that now when fights are close or the collections are done close to a fight, and here he pulses back up to between 60 and 80 picograms.
“There’s some misconception out there,” Novitzky continued. “[The NAC] did not say this fight is absolutely not happening next week. In fact, they, I think, were understanding of these issues but said, ‘Look, optically, this doesn’t look great, and we feel that, out of an abundance of caution, that we need to have a public hearing and be very transparent about this, because this is some weird sh-t.’”
Novitzky also wanted to clear up that Jones didn’t do this intentionally, but he’s paid the price nonetheless:
“Look, nobody’s saying and I’m certainly not saying that Jon didn’t do anything wrong,” Novitzky said. “He obviously did. Jon has, two times now, tested positive for prohibited substances. However, in both occasions, arbitrators have determined that it was not done intentionally. So anyone who says that Jon’s getting off light on this, he’s been suspended for almost two-and-a-half years with a lack of evidence of any intentional use or cheating. You know how much money he’s probably lost in those two-and-a-half years? How many tens of millions of dollars? His reputation? Anybody who says that he got off scot-free on this, I would argue the otherwise. He was held to the strictest of liability standards out there. Someone at the top of their game, money-earning potential like him.”
Jones will fight Alexander Gustafsson in the headliner of UFC 232, which now takes place in The Forum in Inglewood, CA.