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Jon Jones breaks silence about UFC 182 drug test: 'I messed up'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones on Monday broke his silence regarding his failed pre-fight UFC 182 drug test for cocaine metabolites, admitting in an interview with FOX Sports 1 that the test was the result of a night of partying gone wrong.

"I definitely don't have an excuse. I'm not here to make excuses for what happened," Jones said. "I did it, basically at a party. I think a coward would sit here and try to come up with this elaborate reason or to try to blame something, and I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to blame friends or blame pressure or stress. I'm not going to blame anything. But what I will say is that, I messed up. It wasn't a mistake. I can't call it a mistake necessarily, because I consciously did it."

Jones, 27, tested positive for cocaine metabolites in a Dec. 4 random drug test, 30 days out from his UFC 182 title fight against Cormier. The Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) learned of the test failure and informed the UFC on Dec. 23. Jones went on to handily defeat Cormier on Jan. 3, extending his record-setting streak of successful light heavyweight title defenses to eight straight.

Jones revealed that he was first introduced to recreational cocaine use in his college days, and that the drug was something that he "dibbed and dabbed into a little bit" at the time, but addiction was never once an issue.

"I'm definitely not perfect by any means," Jones said.

"I do not dab into cocaine. It's not my thing at all. The night I did it, I was just, there's no excuse. I really don't know what came over me or what decide to make such a poor choice, but I did, and now I live with it."

Jones officially learned of his testing failure two days after UFC 182. The following day Jones announced that he was checking himself into a drug treatment center, which he stayed in for a single night.

Jones drew heavy criticism for the brief length of his stay, however he explained on Monday that the decision was taken entirely out of his hands.

"Me going to rehab was, I would say it was a collective decision between myself and some of my business partners. They thought it would be good. I told them right away, 'Dude, I don't have a drug problem, I just got caught.' They said, 'Jon, we don't know if you have a drug problem or not. Listen, how about you go to rehab and let them decide how healthy you are,'" Jones said.

"So I went to a rehab facility and I did a 24-hour evaluation, where I spoke to three doctors for almost seven hours. We talked about drugs and the role they've played in my life and my upbringing. They came to the conclusion that I didn't need in-patient treatment, so they put me in an out-patient house. I stayed there the next day with a bunch of different addicts. The counselor came to me at the house and he set me down and he said, 'Jon, I really believe that you made a big mistake and that you don't need to live here with us full time, but what I will do is continue to drug test you and to come by your house twice a week, or however often.'"

Jones said that the facility is continuing to drug test him on a "weekly basis" and he is also attending counseling upwards of three times a week.

The UFC ultimately issued Jones a $25,000 fine, equating to five percent of his documented $500,000 purse for the Cormier fight, stating that Jones' testing failure violated the UFC's Code of Conduct policy.

"For me, it was just a really embarrassing situation," Jones said. "I had to explain to so many people that I'm not a cocaine addict by any means. I'm not even a frequent user. I just made a really dumb decision, just really got caught with my pants down on this whole situation.

"I knew that the test would come out positive. I knew it would be a positive test. I just, I knew there was nothing I could do about it. I was stressed out about it, but I just thought I'd focus on what I could control, and that was just the fight."

Jones was not penalized by the NAC for his testing failure, which was administered out-of-competition according to commission standards. Cocaine metabolites are not banned by WADA code for out-of-competition use, as they are not considered to be performance enhancing.

The NAC told MMAFighting.com that the test was not intended to screen for recreational drugs, and the grievous error was what NAC Executive Director Bob Bennett termed an "administrative oversight" -- an oversight that nonetheless went public and cast an immense shadow over what should have been a career-defining victory over Cormier.

"There's a lot of questions that myself, my team, my attorneys are trying to figure out," Jones said of the situation. "At this point, I'm not going to comment on whether I'll be taking action against those guys (the NAC) or not."

Jones successfully passed Carbon Isotope Ratio (CIR) tests for exogenous testosterone and additional banned substances on all five of his UFC 182 pre-fight drug tests, including the failure in question. Jones also passed all of his UFC 182 post-fight drug tests.

However his initial results did bring to light one thing: that the UFC light heavyweight champion (as well as Cormier) possessed curiously low epitestosterone-to-testosterone ratios. The revelation drew accusations of PED abuse from many among the MMA fanbase, a majority of which were put to bed when the CIR tests proved otherwise.

"[The levels mean] absolutely nothing," Jones said. "Every man has a different level of testosterone. Sometimes it's high, sometimes it's lower. A lot of people wrote these articles that possibly we were steroid guys, which neither one of us are.

"I have never, ever taken any kind of performance enhancing drug. Ever."

While the testing failure is far from Jones' first public stumble -- Jones was previously flagged with a DWI in 2012 after crashing his Bentley Continental GT into a pole in New York -- this setback is undoubtedly his most widely covered.

Jones spoke in the aftermath of his victory over Cormier about relocating his family from New York to Albuquerque, NM, and committing himself for the first time to a full-time training schedule at Jackson-Winklejohn. The promise is one Jones still intends to keep as he begins to rebuild himself in the public eye.

"I'm trying to figure out who I am as well, but like anybody else, I have my own issues that I deal with. I have my own insecurities. I have a life that I have to deal with, just like you," Jones said. "Now that the whole sports world knows, this is a huge opportunity for me.

"I'm not going to sit here and say I'm not going to have a drink or enjoy life. I think a lot of people can relate to me. The important thing is to learn when we fall down, to get back up, to not beat yourself up too hard about it, and to try to do things better. ... The best ways I can come back from this, really, is to continue being a winner, and to not let things like this happen again. And just to learn. It's not a defeat if you learn something."

Jones is currently considered to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He is effectively unbeaten in his career, with his only loss coming by way of disqualification in a fight he was winning handily. He became the youngest champion in UFC history at age 23 in 2011 and has since conquered every challenge to come his way, most of which he passed with ease.

Jones is next expected to fight the winner of UFC on FOX 14's main event between top contenders Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson, which takes place this Saturday in Stockholm, Sweden.

"My message to my fans is that I'm sorry," Jones said. "I'm really sorry for maybe betraying their belief, or just letting them down really. I definitely have let myself down, my family, my team, the UFC, and my fans."