Jon Jones' USADA Issue Just Gets More And More Weird
Since the initial shock of UFC 232 being moved from Las Vegas, Nevada to Los Angeles, California on a mere 6 days notice, the saga of Jon Jones and USADA has only gotten more and more strange. As the UFC seeks to do damage control and shape the narrative — including VP of Athlete Health and Performance, Jeff Novitzky appearing on the Joe Rogan Experience (link) — the details surrounding the issue paint a very bizarre and questionable picture. What was originally presented as a case of a single failed test has blossomed into a much more complicated issue, and one that yields no satisfactory explanations as far as I am concerned.
The reason that Nevada was not going to issue Jones a licence was due to multiple failed tests, not just the "atypical finding" on December 9th. The information provided to Nevada indicated that Jones had multiple "atypical findings," as well as some negative tests, dating back to late July of this year. Here are the results of those tests:
July 28th - 80 pg/ml
August 9th - negative
August 29th - 8 pg/ml
September 18th - 19 pg/ml
September 21st - negative
October 2nd - negative
October 11th - negative
November 14th - negative
December 9th - 60 pg/ml
USADA is still standing by their assertion that these test results are due to a "pulsing effect," a remnant of the original ingestion of Turinabol — ingestion that USADA reaffirms they believe to have been accidental. This "pulsing effect" is something that I am not aware has ever come up before, and it I am immensely skeptical of the concept. If Jones accidentally ingested Turinabol, it would have to have been orally; there is no virtually circumstance in which an injection would have inadvertently contained Turinabol. The drug is broken down by the liver and has a stated elimination half-life of approximately 16 hours, I find it difficult to believe we are still seeing traces of it over a year after the fact.
Given that USADA and Jones have repeatedly explained that Jones' initial failure was due to an exceedingly small amount of the drug in the first place, and I have found no one who can support the assertion that such a miniscule amount — a grain of salt in an Olympic swimming pool was the metaphor Novitzky and Jones kept using to explain that he didn't receive any performance enhancing benefits from accidentally taking a PED. At every step of the way, USADA seems to be putting all of their efforts into exhonerating Jones. They managed to receive a failed test, process it, convene a board of supposed scientific experts and render judgment on the issue within 2 weeks somehow — making this some of the quickest turn-around time ever.
Everything about this situation feels wrong; the UFC moving their event to California after just recently cancelling a pay-per-view event scheduled in the state reeks of quid pro quo. Furthmore, USADA and the UFC's decision to stop immediately announcing test failures coincides with Jones' first "atypical finding" (story). Now, on the heels of USADA signing another long-term contract to provide drug testing for the UFC (story), we have the organisation pulling out all the stops to ensure Jon Jones can fight on December 29th. I could not be any more skeptical about this entire situation than I am right now; this is the literal opposite of avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.
Whether this whole fiasco is the result of an extreme cover-up, I don't know. I would like to say that's a really far fetched idea, but things look bad — really, really bad. I would really like a thorough explanation of this purported "pulsing effect," as I find it incredibly difficult to accept at face value. Even the notion that Jones managed to accidentally ingest a drug like Turinabol doesn't sit well with me; it's not the sort of product a supplement manufacturer is also going to be producing. What exactly could Jones have used that was otherwise legal but also had Turinabol in it? He doesn't know, USADA doesn't know; no one knows, but apparently that's okay....
There may well be a reasonable explanation for all of this, albeit a very complicated and detailed one. Regardless, it looks bad and smells worse, and the UFC / USADA partnership has sacrificed a lot of its credibility for the sake of protecting Jon Jones.
Published: December 28th, 2018.