Jon Jones has received the full ban in his doping case.
An independent arbitration panel handed down a one-year suspension on Jones, the UFC interim light heavyweight champion, on Monday. Jones had his USADA case heard by three arbitrators from McLaren Global Sports Solutions last week and the decision came back to give him the full sanction.
The ban is retroactive to when the results came back, so Jones will be eligible to return to the Octagon in July 2017. it was the first time a UFC athlete has gone to arbitration with USADA since UFC partnered with the anti-doping agency last year.
Jones, 29, claimed he took a contaminated sexual-performance pill and USADA confirmed that the pill was tainted. But the arbitrators said in their decision that Jones didn't do his due diligence in determining whether or not what he was using was within the confines of the UFC's anti-doping policy and the WADA Code.
They found that his fault was "at the top end of the scale," because the only questions Jones asked about the particular tablet was toward the teammate who gave it to him and whether or not it was effective from a sexual-performance standpoint.
"His degree of fault in fact verged on the reckless," the arbitrators wrote.
The arbitrators also wrote that Jones should not receive the same six-month suspensions given to UFC fighters Tim Means and Yoel Romero, because those were "classic" cases of contaminated supplements with the banned drug not listed on the warning label.
Jones tested positive for two banned substances, clomiphene and Letrozol, in an out-of-competition drug test prior to UFC 200 in July. Both drugs are anti-estrogen agents. He was pulled from that fight against Daniel Cormier three days before the potential bout when the results came back, losing around a $10 million payday in the process.
Jones, the youngest champion in UFC history and still regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, is also facing a suspension and fine from the Nevada Athletic Commission.
"On the evidence before the Panel, the Applicant is not a drug cheat," the arbitrators wrote in their epilogue. "He did not know that the tablet he took contained prohibited substances or that those substances had the capacity to enhance sporting performance. However by his imprudent use of what he pungently referred to as a 'dick pill' he has not only lost a year of his career but an estimated nine million dollars. This outcome which he admits to be a wake-up call for him should serve as a warning to all others who participate in the same sport."
One year was the maximum Jones faced from USADA, because the the two substances fall under "specified" under the WADA Code, meaning they are more likely to have a non-doping explanation rather than something anabolic or the like.
Jones released a statement regarding the suspension later Monday:
"Although I was hopeful for a better outcome in the USADA ruling today, I am very respectful of the process in which they allowed me to defend myself. I have always maintained my innocence and I am very happy I have been cleared in any wrong doing pursuant to the allegations made that I had intentionally taken a banned substance. I am pleased that in USADA's investigation they determined I was "not a cheater of the sport". Being cleared of these allegations was very important to me. I have worked hard in and outside of the octagon to regain my image and my fighting career and will take these next eight months to continue my training and personal growth both as a man and a athlete. Thank you to all of my fans, teammates, coaches, sponsors and to the UFC for their continued support."