Jon Jones is no snitch, according to his longtime agent.
Malki Kawa told Luke Thomas on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that Jones did not get a reduced suspension in his anti-doping case because he was informing USADA about performance-enhancing drug use by his teammates.
Jones was suspended 15 months, retroactive to July 2017, in the case due to what USADA described as “substantial assistance” and the belief by arbitrator Richard McLaren that Jones was not knowingly cheating. Jones tested positive for a steroid metabolite in relation to UFC 214 last year and has been adamant that he didn’t intentionally take a prohibited substance.
“It’s not like Jon Jones is sitting around in a room watching guys do steroids and then turning around and saying, ‘Oh, wait a minute, I just got popped, I’m gonna go tell on my poor teammates that I know for a fact are sitting in a room doing it, because I just watched them do it,’” Kawa said. “That’s not what happened. Jon goes to training, he trains and he leaves. There’s no hanging out in a room, there’s not going to a bathroom, there’s no shooting somebody up. He doesn’t do that.”
The fact that Kawa is defending his client is due to USADA’s use of the phrase “substantial assistance” and its citation of article 10.6.1.1 of the UFC anti-doping policy in a release announcing Jones’ sanction last week. The reason Jones received a reduction of 30 months — from a four-year ban to 18 months — was due to “substantial assistance,” while the other three months were knocked off by McLaren in arbitration.
Article 10.6.1.1 in the UFC’s anti-doping policy essentially states that a fighter can get a reduced suspension if he or she provides substantial information and cooperation in another case that can lead to anti-doping sanctions or even criminal charges.
USADA clarified the policy clause in a statement to MMA Fighting on Monday:
There are two avenues in 10.6.1 of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy which allow for a reduction in sanctions: 1) an individual can get a sanction reduction if he or she provides information that results in USADA or another anti-doping agency bringing forward an Anti-Doping Policy Violation against other athletes or support personnel; and/or 2) a reduction can be given if the information results in a criminal or disciplinary body bringing forward a criminal offense against individuals. Importantly, if the athlete or support personnel fails to continue to cooperate and provide credible substantial assistance, USADA will reinstate the original sanction. These rules set out in 10.6.1 are crystal clear and if they are not met, an individual would not be considered for a reduction based on substantial assistance. Because the substantial assistance relates to ongoing matters, USADA is unable to provide any further information.
Kawa said he was unclear on USADA’s description of the situation in the release, but was adamant that Jones is not ratting anyone out.
“There was none,” Kawa said. “But I keep saying that and everybody keeps running with it. Substantial assistance doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be on somebody else. It could have been on himself. People don’t understand. That whole line and all that, I don’t have a lot of clarity on it, I don’t understand it. They said to me, ‘Hey listen, this is how it’s gotta be worded.’ I said, ‘OK, cool.’ I kind of just let it be, because I’m thinking, OK, I don’t really get it, but maybe everybody else doesn’t either. I don’t know.”
However, USADA’s statement notates that the assistance provided must be about “other athletes or support personnel” or by “bringing forward a criminal offense against individuals,” per the statement.
According to the UFC’s anti-doping policy, someone giving “substantial assistance” must “fully disclose in a signed written statement all information he or she possesses in relation to Anti-Doping Policy Violations” and “fully cooperate with the investigation and adjudication of any case related to that information, including, for example, presenting testimony at a hearing if requested to do so by USADA or hearing panel. Further, the information provided must be credible and must comprise an important part of any case which is initiated or, if no case is initiated, must have provided a sufficient basis on which a case could have been brought.”
Article 10.6.1.1 states that a fighter who provides “substantial assistance” must continue to “cooperate and to provide the complete and credible information” or risk getting the original sanction reinstated.
In other words, the “substantial assistance” provision works much like when someone is accused of a crime and gets a shortened sentence due to cooperation with law-enforcement authorities or the prosecution with regards to another case.
Kawa promised that Jones was not providing that kind of information about his teammates at JacksonWink MMA in Albuquerque, though.
“Give it a year, give it two,” the agent said. “If all of a sudden, seven guys go down at Jackson’s gym, and there’s a bust in steroids at Jackson’s gym, then I’m sitting here lying. But I can almost assure you, if that was to happen it didn’t come from Jon Jones.”