With Jon Jones having failed another USADA drug test, here’s just how serious the penalties could be for the UFC light heavyweight champion.
For the second time in just over a year, Jon Jones has failed a USADA drug test. While the first instance prevented his rematch with Daniel Cormier from ever happening at UFC 200, his latest failure was announced after he’d viciously knocked Cormier out in the UFC 214 main event. Jones tested positive for turinabol, an anabolic steroid, and although he’s still technically the light heavyweight champion, there’s a pretty strong chance that he’ll be stripped of his title (again).
The last time a UFC champion either won or defended a title and was later found to have popped for steroids was Sean Sherk back in 2007. In fact, both Sherk and Hermes Franca failed their UFC 73 drug tests, so one of them was always going to be stripped of the lightweight title. Sherk’s fine was $2,500 by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) and a twelve-month suspension (later reduced to six).
Fast forward ten years later, with a vastly different landscape in terms of fighter pay, drug testing, and penalties for positive test results, and Jones is facing the most costly drug test failure in UFC history. Erik Magraken of Combat Sports Law has outlined the slew of possible punishments for Jones, from losing his belt to a potential lawsuit from Cormier:
1. Having his victory against Cormier overturned
2. Forfeiture of his purse
3. Forfeiture of his title
4. 4 years of ineligibility imposed by USADA
5. a $500,000 UFC fine
6. A CSAC imposed suspension
7. A fine of up to 40% of his purse imposed by the CSAC
8. A potential civil lawsuit by Cormier alleging battery
If you’re curious as to Cormier possibly suing Jones, Magraken has laid out the scenario:
Last but not least Jones may be vulnerable to civil liability if Cormier alleges he never consented to fight a doping competitor. Such a lawsuit can have legs if intentional doping can be proven. Given the bout ended with Cormier suffering a traumatic brain injury this is no small risk. Basically a fighter can argue that doping is fraud and fraud vitiates consent to fight. If this is proven a Court can find that any damage suffered in a bout is a result of an unlawful battery. This is not unprecedented as can be seen from the Collins v. Resto lawsuit for battery via glove tampering and the Ruiz v. Toney doping lawsuit that was resolved via out of court settlement.
To further expand on point 1 with the Cormier result being overturned, we’ve seen numerous wins flipped to no-contests due to failed drug tests. However, in the USADA era, the UFC can disqualify Jones and award Cormier with the win. (From the official USADA-UFC partnership guidelines)
Brock Lesnar’s decision win over Mark Hunt at UFC 200 was ruled a no-contest after Lesnar failed multiple drug tests. Lightweight Gleison Tibau wasn’t as lucky, as his already controversial victory over Abel Trujillo became a DQ loss for the Brazilian following a positive result for EPO.