Before even the arrest and UFC suspension, Jon Jones' year started off on a sour note.
Three days after his win over Daniel Cormier at UFC 182 in January, it came out that Jones failed a pre-fight, out-of-competition drug test for cocaine metabolites. Jones released a statement, checked himself into rehab (and out after less than a day) and the UFC fined him $25,000.
Many people still wonder why Jones wasn't suspended or fined by the Nevada Athletic Commission the way Nick Diaz was. The answer is simple: The NAC admittedly screwed up.
Cocaine is not prohibited by the WADA code out of competition -- only in competition. The commission should not have been testing for cocaine a month before Jones' fight with Cormier. And it also should not have released Jones' positive result.
Those facts have not been lost on Jones, who has had other things to worry about over the last seven months.
"I have up to three years to sue them for what they did to me," Jones told MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani in his first interview since a felony hit-and-run arrest in April. ... "I had no right to be doing cocaine, but they had no right to be testing me for street drugs and then putting it out to the public. I hear about the cocaine more than anything else I've ever done in my career. So, they definitely set me back huge. Let's just say I haven't forgot bout it."
Jones, 28, would not say one way or the other if he would take any legal action against the NAC. But he certainly has a strong opinion about the commission, especially after it suspended Diaz five years and fined him $165,000 for a third marijuana offense.
"I don't really want to get too deep into this whole situation," Jones said. "Hearing some of the things Nevada does, the way they penalized Nick Diaz for five years, the way they put my cocaine test to the public -- I feel like as if that commission needs some type of commission. I feel like they can do whatever they want to whoever they want. Eventually, someone is going to need to stand up to these guys and question their power or at least figure out some type of rule to monitor what they can and can't do. Right now, it just seems too loose."
In the interview with Helwani, Jones reiterated that he was not and has never been a cocaine addict. But he did admit to being addicted to marijuana and a heavy drinker leading up to the arrest. In October, Jones pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident involving death or serious injury and was given 18 months probation and 72 appearances of community service.
"It's crazy with the whole cocaine thing," Jones said. "Ariel, I'll look you dead in your eyes. I don't like coke. I'm not a coke guy. I smoked marijuana quite frequently. And people who know me know that about me. I love to drink. I can honestly say I partied with the best of them.
"But cocaine, you know, I tried cocaine one night and the athletic commission is there the next day. It was just, like, how in the world did this just go down? How did it happen this way? So now people like to paint me as this coke head, and my haters would love for me to be a coke head, but far from it. I would never be able to accomplish the things I have with cocaine. I was addicted to marijuana. And because you can do so much while being a marijuana addict, it's hard to admit that you're an addict. But I was, and now I'm not, and I feel set free, and I'm just so grateful for everything that has happened to me, because it's allowed me to see this and be more clear."