The MMA world was rocked late Tuesday night when news broke via TMZ that UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones had failed an in-competition drug test administered the day before UFC 214, bringing further scandal upon the already embattled UFC star mere weeks after Jones seemingly re-righted his career with a vicious third-round knockout of Daniel Cormier on July 29.
Jones’ agent, Malki Kawa, adamantly maintained Jones’ innocence on Wednesday. In a special on-the-road edition of The MMA Hour, Kawa said he believed Jones to be the victim of a tainted supplement and admitted that Jones was struggling with the news.
“He’s devastated,” Kawa said on The MMA Hour. “He’s devastated and he’s hurt.
“It’s amazing that you can go from being at the very top of the mountain, everything that you can possibly do to gain the respect the admiration of everyone involved, fans, family members, the people in the UFC, just everyone, teammates, other fighters, and then to go from that, everything he’s been through to finally doing everything perfect — because last time he was being negligent, right? — this time he was being perfect and double-checking everything to [prevent] something like this from happening to him. It’s unbelievable, it’s unreal, and we’re all pretty much shocked. We’re all shocked and devastated.”
Kawa confirmed the anabolic steroid Turinabol was the substance in question that Jones tested positive for, and said that he expects the results of Jones’ B sample to be returned within two weeks. Kawa plans to send out “an expert” to ensure the handling of the B sample is done properly, and said that the UFC is allowing Jones his due process before making any decisions regarding the UFC light heavyweight title.
“I can almost bet my life on it that this is another tainted supplement,” Kawa said.
“You’ve got to just take a look at the testing and how this thing went down. Jon passed two (random, out-of-competition) tests, July 6th and July 7th, ... and in passing those two tests, they test for all of that stuff we failed for. So therefore, you’re talking about from the day he passed that test until the day before the fight, he would’ve had to have ingested something that would’ve caused this test to come out positive.
“The problem that we’re having with that is that he passes all of the random tests, but then the one test that we know about, the one that we for sure know about, is the one that we fail? So, something here is not sitting right. I’m assuming it’s the supplements we took. We just obviously got to get to work on it, see what was taken that month, that three-week period, that week of the fight, and figure it out from there.”
Jones, 30, previously tested positive for two banned substances, clomiphene and letrozol, prior to a planned July 2016 bout against Cormier at UFC 200. Jones ultimately served a maximum one-year suspension for the failed test, which USADA found to be the result of a tainted sexual performance enhancement pill.
Now, as a multiple-time offender, Jones faces a maximum four-year suspension from USADA for his potential UFC 214 failure.
“I know Jon better than anybody, and I’m telling you, this man does not cheat. He has no reason to,” Kawa said.
“I’m encouraging everyone to go out there and take a look at the tests he passed and the test he failed. It’s a three-week window the month of the fight. Jon has passed seven unannounced tests, and the one he’s going to fail is the one that’s announced? It’s weird to me, there’s a lot of things here that don’t add up, and to the UFC, it doesn’t add up.
“The UFC knows. They look at his tests on the 6th and the 7th, and he passed both of those, there’s nothing in his system. So for him to start doing steroids, especially the steroid they’re saying he took, he would’ve had to have been doing that steroid for awhile for it to actually do anything. He just took it to take it? I mean, to me, there’s a lot of issues with this. That’s why I just wish ... they would change the way they released information, absolutely, because I think that if the B sample comes back negative, then this man just got crushed again for no reason.”
Kawa expressed immense frustration regarding several aspects of how the situation was handled. Kawa said that no one from Team Jones was contacted before the publication of the TMZ report, meaning Jones and Kawa themselves found out about the testing failure from social media. By the time they got official word, Kawa said, “it was already all over the place.”
Kawa also railed against the UFC and USADA’s method of disclosing potential testing failures to the public before athletes have gotten their due process, citing his past experiences with Jones and fellow client Yoel Romero, who was also found to be the victim of a tainted supplement.
“I actually was screaming and yelling at them about that when it came to Yoel Romero the first time it happened, and their response to me was ‘it’s just transparency,’” Kawa said. “They didn’t want to not release the information. But I’ve had enough of it, to be honest with you. This is something that personally I’m going to start working toward, getting these fighters to start understanding that there’s some rights that they need to have.
“That’s the issue I have with this whole USADA stuff. Why do you guys let this information out? Why can’t we just keep it under wraps and wait until we get the B sample cleared? Why can’t we wait until we go through a process, if we choose to go through a process?”
Kawa repeatedly maintained Jones’ innocence in not knowingly taken any banned substances and said that neither Jones, nor his team, have any idea where the root of failed test could have come from.
Kawa said Jones was already in talks to either challenge Stipe Miocic for the UFC heavyweight title or defend his 205-pound belt against Alexander Gustafsson prior to the release of the news. Those plans have obviously since been put on hold, however Kawa is confident that Jones will persevere, just as he has through all of his many troubles throughout the past three years.
“Here’s the thing, we’ve come back from so much already, why would I sit here and tell you something different?” Kawa said. “Absolutely, we’re going to come back from this. If we can find the source of this substance, and it is definitely again another situation where — because this time, there’s no negligence; we turned everything in, we’ve done what we’re supposed to do that I’m aware of, that I know of, my brother stayed on top of this thing the whole time. I know the coaches, everything that was being done to Jon, given to Jon, any advice — Jon was calling us, Jon was talking to us, he was communicating with us. So we were doing our job to make sure that everything was cleared with USADA and the whole nine yards.
“There’s a lot of things that obviously go down between the time you get to a fight week and the end of the fight, and all that other stuff, the stuff that happens before, so I’ve just got to get through all of that stuff and figure it all out. But once I do that, I’m confident that we’ll be able to vindicate Jon Jones again.”