UFC interim light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been notified of a potential doping violation, ruling him out of his bout with incumbent champion Daniel Cormier in the main event of UFC 200 this Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Jones was just returning from a one-year ban for a hit and run incident, having been stripped of the UFC crown by the fight organisation.
Earlier Wednesday Jones and Cormier had faced off at a news conference generating huge excitement ahead of the contest. Then the bathos of the evening news breaking, for fighters, fans, and Cormier.
Jones could be facing a further two year ban, which would take him to the age of 30.
Brock Lesnar versus Mark Hunt, a three-round heavyweight bout, has been moved to the main event for the mixed martial arts organisation’s biggest event ever.
UFC president Dana White announced the dramatic change Wednesday night, three days before the mixed martial arts promotion’s bi-centennial show, being billed as the SuperBowl of MMA.
Wednesday night’s news from the MGM Grand was that Jones tested positive for a banned substance in an out-of-competition sample taken on June 16 by USADA, reported by Jeff Novitzky, the UFC’s vice president of athlete health and performance, brought in as a drug tzar to combat doping in the sport.
It is USADA which administers the UFC’s rigorous anti-drug policy.
Jones, regarded as the No 1 pound-for-pound fighter in MMA, has failed drug tests in two of his past three scheduled fights. He tested positive for apparent cocaine use before his first fight with Cormier at UFC 182 in January 2015.
Jones served a suspension for much of 2015 after his involvement in a traffic violation — a hit-and-run accident.
The news came as a body blow to UFC officials, and to Daniel Cormier last night. Jones could be banned for up to two years for this latest misdemeanor after the due process is followed.
A statement from the UFC read: “The UFC organization was notified tonight that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Jon Jones of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection on June 16, 2016.
“USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case. It is important to note that, under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full fair legal review process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed.
“However, because Jones was scheduled to compete against Daniel Cormier this coming Saturday, July 9 in Las Vegas, there is insufficient time for a full review before the scheduled bout and therefore the fight has been removed from the fight card. As a result, the three-round heavyweight bout between Brock Lesnar and Mark Hunt will become the UFC 200 main event.
Consistent with all previous potential anti-doping violations, additional information or UFC statements will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.”
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