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Jon Jones agrees to VADA drug testing ahead of UFC 232

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Jon Jones will have to undergo extra drug testing in relation to his upcoming fight this weekend.

The former UFC light heavyweight champion enrolled in the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) drug testing program Monday. The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) required the extra testing in order to approve the fight – which was moved from Las Vegas to Inglewood, Calif. on Sunday after Jones failed to receive licensing from the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC).

The news was first reported by ESPN, and was confirmed by MMA Fighting with CSAC executive officer Andy Foster shortly after. Foster said Jones will be in the VADA program for between three and six months.

The NSAC didn’t license Jones to fight Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 for the UFC light heavyweight title on Dec. 29 due to a drug-testing abnormality. NAC wants Jones to come in for a hearing in January before licensing him.

According to USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner, an “extremely low” amount of the prohibited substance 4-chloro-18-nor-17β-hydroxymethyl,17α-methyl-5α-androst-13-en-3α-ol (M3) was found in Jones’ system from an out-of-competition sample collected in early December. It was the same substance Jones tested positive for in July 2017 and USADA and CSAC, citing scientists, have said that it’s a long-term metabolite and Jones has already been sanctioned for this particular substance. The metabolite has no performance-enhancing qualities, Foster said, citing scientists and Dr. Daniel Eichner, the lab director at WADA-accredited SMRTL in Salt Lake City.

Jones will now undergo testing from both VADA and USADA for his rematch with Gustafsson on Saturday night at The Forum. The 31-year-old UFC star is now the first fighter to be enrolled in both VADA and USADA testing at the same time.

The cost of the VADA testing will be covered by the $205,000 Jones was fined by CSAC for his failed drug test in July 2017.

The idea of VADA testing Jones first came up earlier this month at Jones’ licensing hearing with CSAC. Commissioner Martha Shen-Urquidez proposed that Jones enroll in VADA to fully clear his name since VADA, unlike USADA, has no financial relationship to the UFC. VADA does not adjudicate cases, the program just passes results off to athletic commissions.

Jones initially tested positive for the steroid metabolite in relation to UFC 214 in July 2017. He was suspended 15 months in his USADA case after facing four years. USADA shortened the suspension to 18 months after Jones provided “substantial assistance,” or cooperation in another case, be it doping or criminal. An arbitrator Richard McLaren further shortened the suspension to 15 months, writing that he did not believe Jones intentionally doped.

Additional reporting by Marc Raimondi