MMA

Jon Jones' Team Attempt To Explain Away 'Heartbreaking' Drug Test Failure

Jon Jones' Team Attempt To Explain Away 'Heartbreaking' Drug Test Failure

When all is said and done with his career, whatever he ends up achieving between now and the moment he hangs up his gloves, there will always be a big asterisk beside Jon Jones' name in the MMA history books.

Jones and the UFC are still feeling the repercussions of him being withdrawn from the main event of UFC 200 at the eleventh hour for failing a USADA-mandated drug test, something which could cost the sport's greatest ever talent anything from two to four years of his career via suspension.

Jones' camp are keeping their cards close to their chest. Neither Jones nor his team have announced what it was that he failed the test for, though Dana White did say on the eve of UFC 200 that his drug test showed evidence of two separate banned substances being present in his system and, ominously for the former Light Heavyweight champion, each infraction carries with it a potential two year ban from the sport.

There hasn't been any real explanation from the Jones camp about the failed test except for leaving room for the well-worn "tainted supplement" excuse but Malki Kawa, Jones' manager, appeared on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani yesterday to attempt to give some answers but really only left us with more questions.

He said:

It was heartbreaking. It was really heartbreaking, because you tell him this and he's looking at me like, 'what are you talking about?' He thought it couldn't be for real. This can't be happening. The team thought the same thing.

Everybody was just excited, we're going through fight week, things are going as planned, everything is great, the weight cut is awesome, he's in great spirits, the team is fired up, everybody is around him, we're doing our thing, and basically I walk out into the hallway and have to break the news to everybody that we're not fighting. It went from excitement to as if I told somebody that somebody died. It was that quiet.

The removal of Jones from the card left the UFC scrambling to find a late replacement opponent for Daniel Cormier, as well as forcing them to move Brock Lesnar v Mark Hunt and then, finally, Miesha Tate vs Amanda Nunes to the main event. The UFC's 'biggest ever show' was now being held together by sticky tape and you get the impression that Dana White isn't going to forgive him anytime soon.

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The UFC president told interviewer Colin Cowherd that he wouldn't "answer the phone" if Jon Jones called him and threw some shade at Kawa himself.

There is nothing for me and Jon Jones to talk about. I haven't [talked to him] and I'm not going to. There's no reason for us to talk.

[He's] already been through this history of absolute madness. Forget about doing this to us, why would you do this to yourself? You're a grown up and the guys who are looking out for him are just as bad.

While the cause of Jones' failed test will eventually be disclosed by USADA, Kawa is remaining tight-lipped on what exactly caused the red flags. Two of his other clients - Tim Means and Yoel Romero - have also failed drug tests and Kawa has blamed this on them taking legal supplements which had somehow contained illegal substances.

Kawa took the same strategy for Jones when asked about this be Helwani.

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I want to explain to everybody why I don't disclose anything about it. It's not that we're trying to hide anything or that we're not trying to get ahead of it and tell people what it is. I'm going to stand by our comments at the press conference. Jon, at no point in time, was a cheater, has never cheated, has never taken any substance that he knowingly knew of that was on the banned list.

You take supplements, it could be anything. You could take freaking protein powder in a basic form, BCAAs, anything, and if it's tainted with anything -- the thing is people don't understand, these supplements get made in manufacturing plants, and although it's just supposed to be protein, the batch before that might've been some sort of testosterone booster that had some something illegal in it. So, if they don't clean the machines out and all of a sudden that can be in that batch.

However while Jones' management team won't say much Chael Sonnen appeared yesterday on Joe Rogan's podcast and he was a little more forthcoming with what he believes to have happened. He alleged that not only did Jones knowingly take performance enhancers, this wasn't the first time either.

Sonnen claims that Jones has tested positive for two separate estrogen blockers which, while not performance enhancing in their own right, they are sometimes used to mask the presence of steroid use in men. Rashad Evans has made a similar claim online in recent days.

Sonnen, who is a former opponent of Jon Jones and someone who has received drug bans himself, also mentioned rumours he heard which stated that Jones once hid from drug testers for eight hours under a boxing ring at his training centre to avoid a test.

There aren't many legitimate reasons for estrogen blockers to make an appearance in health supplements and, if this is indeed true, will be very hard to explain away. Jones is definitely facing a ban and there's no way to talk his way out of that. The only question that remains is for how long the sport's best talent will be prohibited from the cage, and whether or not he even deserves the opportunity to go back.

John Balfe

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