Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was initially facing a 48-month suspension due to his positive test for turinabol, but that was reduced to just 18 months following arbitration. Three months of that reduction were due to a small reduction in Jones’ degree of fault, and the arbitrator believing he did not deliberately intend to cheat, but thirty months were due to the “snitching” clause in the UFC’s anti-doping program.
USADA’s statement read in part, “Prior to the hearing, USADA determined that a 30-month reduction in the otherwise applicable period of ineligibility was appropriate under the rules based on Jones’ delivery of substantial assistance. Evidence related to Jones’ substantial assistance was presented at the hearing and considered by the arbitrator.”
The arbitration decision further clarified this assistance, “Under Article 10.6.1.1 of the UFC ADP, USADA is authorized to reduce all or part of any period of ineligibility based on substantial assistance provided by an individual accused of an ADPV. USADA has in its sold discretion determined that the Athlete is entitled to a thirty (30) month reduction in his period of ineligibility pursuant to this rule.”
The clause in question, 10.6.1.1, reads as follows. Emphasis mine.
USADA in its sole discretion may suspend all or part of the period of Ineligibility and other Consequences imposed in an individual case in which it has results management authority where the Athlete or other Person has provided Substantial Assistance to USADA or another Anti-Doping Organization, criminal authority or professional disciplinary body which results in: (i) USADA or another Anti-Doping Organization discovering or bringing forward an Anti-Doping Policy Violation by another Person and the information provided by the Person providing Substantial Assistance is made available to USADA, or (ii) which results in a criminal or disciplinary body discovering or bringing forward a criminal offense or the breach of professional rules committed by another Person and the information provided by the Person providing Substantial Assistance is made available to USADA. The extent to which the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility and other Consequences imposed may be suspended shall be based on the seriousness of the Anti-Doping Policy Violation committed by the Athlete or other Person and the significance of the Substantial Assistance provided by the Athlete or other Person to the effort to eliminate doping in sport.
If the Athlete or other Person fails to continue to cooperate and to provide the complete and credible Substantial Assistance upon which a suspension of the period of Ineligibility or other Consequences was based, USADA shall reinstate the original period of Ineligibility and other Consequences.
What this means is that Jones has been providing USADA with information that will lead to either USADA sanctioning individuals, or criminal investigations into individuals. His 30 month reduction is very significant, over 50% of his total suspension length. For comparison, a recent reduction for the same reason in weightlifting saw USADA give a reduction of 24 months on a 48-month suspension, which would imply Jones’ information is significant, as he received a greater reduction.
The clause specifically states the reduction is given when the information results in USADA or another body discovering or bringing forward an offense/violation, so Jones just saying he heard this guy does steroids wouldn’t cut it. It almost certainly involved specific, detailed information about the use or supply of drugs.
Jones is required to continue to provide this information, or his suspension will be reinstated.
This appears to be the first time any UFC athlete has taken advantage of the “snitching” clause to gain a reduction in their sentence. It has happened before in other sports, most recently in US weightlifting circles, which led to several sanctions and other people also taking advantage of the “snitching” clause to reduce their own sentences.
It could take months before the results of the information Jones has provided becomes obvious based on the timeline of other, similar investigations by USADA.
This article has been updated with direct quotes from USADA and the arbitration document.