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Nevada Athletic Commission calls Jon Jones' drug test failure an 'administrative oversight'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Several questions still remain surrounding the news that Jon Jones tested positive for benzoylecgonine, the main metabolite in cocaine, on Dec. 4, 30 days before his UFC 182 light-heavyweight title fight against Daniel Cormier in Las Vegas.

One of the questions that has been asked is: When did Jones and his team find out about the failed drug test?

According to sources close to the situation, Jones was not notified by the Nevada Athletic Commission of the failed drug test before the fight. Sources say he was informed by UFC officials on Monday, two days after UFC 182. NAC executive director Bob Bennett told MMAFighting.com that he would defer to the UFC about when the promotion informed Jones of the news but confirmed that, to the best of his knowledge, Jones was only told after the fight. The UFC declined to comment on their timeline of events.

The NAC learned of the test failure on Dec. 23. NAC chairman Francisco Aguilar told MMAFighting.com the commission informed the UFC of the failure around that day. He was also unsure when the UFC informed Jones of the news. As for why Jones was tested for a recreational drug that is not considered a banned substance out of competition, Bennett said:

"That was a bit of an anomaly that will be addressed [at the next NAC hearing on] Jan. 12. It was not a report requested by the NAC. It appears to have been an administrative oversight."

Jones was actually tested twice on Dec. 4 because, according to Bennett, his first urine sample was a bit "watery." Both tests were positive for cocaine metabolites.

Jones' next out-of-competition drug screening following the Dec. 4 test came on Dec. 18. He passed that test, however, he was not tested for cocaine because, as Bennett stated, that was an "anomaly."

"Just for out of competition drugs such as anabolic steroids, no street drugs," Bennett said when asked if Jones was tested for cocaine and other recreational drugs after the Dec. 4 test.

While it is clear the NAC will not punish Jones for the infraction because, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency code -- the same code that the NAC adheres to -- cocaine is not considered a banned substance out of competition ("in competition" is listed as the 12-hour stretch before a contest, as well as the time needed to collect any test samples immediately afterwards), some have wondered whether Jones' infraction violated the UFC's Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct states: "Discipline may be imposed for misconduct, which includes without limitation, the following examples: ...criminal offenses relating to performance-enhancing and prohibited substances, or substance abuse ..."

The UFC does consider Jones' test failure a violation of its Code of Conduct, but they are recognizing the fact that he is taking the necessary steps to address the issue (checking himself into a rehabilitation facility earlier in the week).

The reason Jones will not face any kind of punishment from Nevada is because, as stated earlier, his test failure was for a substance that is not considered banned "out of competition." Some have compared this situation to the likes of Matt Riddle, Nick Diaz, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and many others who failed post-fight drug tests for marijuana, another recreational drug, which, like cocaine, is not considered performance enhancing.

The difference between Jones' situation and the aforementioned cases is that those tests were administered "in competition" (i.e. after the fight or 12 hours before it). If Jones tests positive for the exact same thing "in competition" (by the way, his post-fight drug test has yet to be released), he would be subject to punishment from the NAC because cocaine is considered a banned substance in competition. However, failing for cocaine, as well as marijuana, isn't punishable out of competition, according to the WADA code.

Both Jones and Cormier were tested twice in competition: a urine test before the fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and a blood and urine test immediately afterwards.

So why was this news released if there was no punishment to be had? Sources say there was a public records request for Jones' drug test results after the fight. It's possible that this news would have never been made public if the request was never made, however, the NAC was well within their rights to bring it up if Jones ever applied for a license to fight in Nevada again. Bennett also said they planned to discuss it at next week's hearing before the public records request was ever made.

Yahoo! Sports first reported the news on Tuesday. The UFC and Dana White released statements Tuesday regarding Jones.

"We support UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones' decision to enter a drug treatment facility to address his recent issue," the UFC released. "While we are disappointed in the failed test, we applaud him for making this decision to enter a drug treatment facility. Jon is a strong, courageous fighter inside the Octagon, and we expect him to fight this issue with the same poise and diligence. We commend him on his decision, and look forward to him emerging from this program a better man as a result."

"I am proud of Jon Jones for making the decision to enter a drug treatment facility," White said. "I'm confident that he'll emerge from this program like the champion he truly is."

And in a statement to Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole, Jones apologized for the test failure.

"With the support of my family, I have entered into a drug treatment facility," Jones stated. "I want to apologize to my fiancée, my children, as well as my mother, father, and brothers for the mistake that I made. I also want to apologize to the UFC, my coaches, my sponsors and equally important to my fans. I am taking this treatment program very seriously. Therefore, at this time my family and I would appreciate privacy."