Jon Jones Fails Drug Test - UFC 232 Moved To California
Yeah, you read the title of this article just fine... Normally I'd open with some statement of incredulity — along the lines of "how could this happen" — but this is Jon Jones we're dealing with, and nothing is ever easy or simple. In this case, it appears that Jones had a "atypical finding" on a recent drug test, which indicated the presence of Turinabol, the substance which caused Jones' previous failed drug test back in 2017. So, naturally, the UFC is just going to move the entire UFC 232 event to another state — California to be exact — so that Jones can get licenced.
Totally normal stuff, right?
This whole situation is both absurd and yet somehow expected; did anyone think Jon Jones' return to MMA would be without some form of controversy? If so, you must be new around here. Still, this particular situation is very weird; the UFC apparently decided to move the whole event to California as it became apparent that Nevada was not going to issue Jones a licence to fight. Oddly enough, California's athletic commission seems to have no problems issuing a licence, after flying Jones out to perform their own drug testing and conferring with USADA.
For a commission that is generally regarded as one of the more effective, progressive regulators of MMA, this decision by Andy Foster is more than a little surprising. It's one thing to licence the tattered remains of a former great (link) only to see them get demolished — that's pretty normal by the standards of combat sports. But to allow the UFC to do an end run around what is, to be blunt, another failed drug test is, at best, an ugly-looking situation. The argument USADA had put forward is that Turinabol is capable of showing up in minute amounts for a very, very long time. I'm not familiar with the science in that regard so, while I think it certainly sounds fishy, there's nothing I can point to which refutes this position (link).
Regardless, the continued preferential treatment from USADA serves to undermine whatever credibility they may have had left. Everything about this situation look bad; the UFC is willing to put the screws to the people who booked hotels and flights to Las Vegas — during the holiday season — as well as tarnish their anti-doping regime, and all for the sake of keeping Jon Jones on a fight card. This is a stunning change of heart considering that Dana White once famously said "Jon Jones will never headline another UFC event again" back in 2016 (link). That statement continues to be proven false time-and-time again, and this time the UFC is even willing to uproot an entire event on 6 days notice.
We'll see how this thing works out; I feel terrible for anyone who had travel plans to see UFC 232 in Las Vegas. I feel bad for the fighters and their teams who will have to sort out their own logistical issues, and deal with the last-minute change of venue. Everything about this turn of events is lamentable and yet, at the end of the day, something that would happen to a peculiar fringe sport like MMA.
Published: December 23rd, 2018.