ANAHEIM, Calif. — Jon Jones issued a statement Tuesday on Twitter following his doping hearing in front of the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC). In that statement, Jones thanked CSAC, specifically executive officer Andy Foster “for saying he believes me.”
I want to thank csac for taking the time and hearing my case, and executive officer Andy Foster for saying he believes me.— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) February 27, 2018
That’s somewhat of an odd thing to write considering CSAC revoked Jones’ MMA license and fined him $205,000 at the hearing here and Foster was the one who recommended those sanctions to the commission.
But Jones is right — Foster doesn’t think the former UFC light heavyweight champion is lying when he says he didn’t knowingly take the steroid he tested positive for.
Jones, 30, failed the in-competition drug test for Turinabol in relation to his UFC 214 fight with Daniel Cormier. The sample was collected July 28. However, Jones passed two drug tests in early July and another one Oct. 11. His legal defense Tuesday centered around that: If Jones was on an “effective” doping program, some of those other tests should have come back dirty, too.
“This doesn’t make any sense,” Foster said of the situation. “He passed all the tests that were surprise tests, the out-of-competition tests, but then he fails the one he knows is coming? That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. And with a drug that is easily detectable. There’s a lot of things that doesn’t make any sense about this. As you know, I can’t deal with that. I can only deal with the facts that are in front of me.”
And the fact remained that Jones fought Cormier with a steroid in his system, whether he intentionally ingested it or not. That’s why Foster asked for the maximum fine of 40 percent of Jones’ purse and a license revocation, rather than just a suspension.
Foster said that Jones can apply again for a license beginning in August. But he will recommend to the commission not to grant Jones a license again until after the conclusion of his USADA suspension. Jones has yet to be given any sanctions by USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner. He is expected to to go arbitration and is facing a four-year suspension.
“He can apply,” Foster said. “I won’t support the application and they’re gonna ask me, the commissioners, what my recommendation is. I think he needs to get through this USADA thing first. Let’s see where USADA comes down. Let’s see where they’re at.
“I think I tried to make it clear that I don’t think this is a career-ending type of offense. So, hopefully something reasonable comes out of the thing.”
Jones’ past history of poor judgment came up at the hearing, from his felony hit-and-run arrest, to his DUI, to his failed drug test in 2016 for two banned substances that earned him a one-year suspension from arbitrators in his USADA case.
Foster believes a license revocation is more stringent than a suspension in this case, because Jones is not guaranteed to get his license back. He’ll have to come before the commission again to do so and provide to them examples that things are different with him.
“I think there needed to be somewhat of a message sent this time,” Foster said. “If we suspend, he is getting a license back in the future. If we revoke it, he has to come back to this commission and ask for it back and then show them that he’s done some things.
“He’s an icon in the sport, he’s possibly the best mixed martial artist that has ever lived. He needs to understand just like anybody else that what a license holder in mixed martial artist is. It takes responsibility to get that license.”
Once Jones’ USADA suspension is up, Foster said he’d likely recommend the commission to reinstate his license. Jones would have to apply to get it back and show up in person again to face the commissioners. Except at that point, Foster would be advocating for him, not somewhat working against him like he was Tuesday.
“This time, he’ll be with me on my side and I’ll be bringing the application,” Foster said. “If he serves his USADA suspension and I’m satisfied with what he’s done. It’ll be a different situation, which will be me and him versus me and my attorney against him and his counsel.”
Jones mentioned at the hearing Tuesday that he has never spoke to USADA about what substances are legal and what are not. He said his management team did all the required online tutorials and forged his signature on them. That kind of admission could damage Jones in his arbitration with USADA, but Foster said he hopes it does not.
“I hope that people look at all this with some common sense,” Foster said. “It doesn’t make sense for Jon Jones to dope at the time that he doped. I mean, administered — whatever the term. I’m not saying he’s a doper. I’m saying however it got in his system, that wouldn’t have been the right time. That’s where my mind was at and that’s what I wasn’t able to get around the whole time. But did that stuff hurt him? I hope not.”
Foster said he hopes that Jones receives a “reasonable” sanction in his arbitration with USADA. He will not attend it, though, whenever it is. CSAC, Foster said, has completed its case with Jones for the time being.
“Hopefully, the next time I see Mr. Jones he’ll be sitting beside me and I’ll have his application in my hand and I’ll say, ‘Look, I’m recommending you give Mr. Jones a license.’