UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones really was telling the truth when he denied intentionally using clomiphene and letrozole. The two substances were found during an out-of-competition drug test collected over the past summer. Jones used the same lame excuse that has been used by seemingly every guilty athlete busted for doping. But it looks like Jones was telling the truth in this case.
Jones released a statement, via his public relations agent Denise White, which thanked the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for exonerating him
“I have always maintained my innocence and I am very happy I have been cleared in any wrong doing pursuant to the allegations made that I had intentionally taken a banned substance. I am pleased that in USADA’s investigation they determined I was ‘not a cheater of the sport’. Being cleared of these allegations was very important to me.”
Jones knew he didn’t intentionally use either of the banned substances he tested positive for. This led him to suspect it was one of the dietary supplements he was using. Jones had only used a limited number of supplements throughout the majority of his career. Identifying the culprit should have been easy.
GAT Nutrition, the supplement company that sponsored Jones, quickly denied that the failed anti-doping test could have resulted from any of its products. GAT Nutrition Vice President Mark Post released a statement clarifying that GAT had nothing to do with Jones’ failed drug test.
“Nothing Jon is using from GAT contains anything that is banned,” GAT Nutrition vice president Post said. “We do extensive third-party testing and we know he has been tested several times. Everything has come up clear. We have no idea what has changed in what he has taken over the last month. We don’t live with Jon, and don’t even know what the banned substance is.”
GAT Nutrition never had anything to worry about. Jones apparently wasn’t using the supplements manufactured by his sponsor. He had been using a product distributed by a competing supplement company. Since 2011, Jones admitted using a dietary supplement called “T-Anabol”. T-Anabol promised “drug like gains legally” and contained vitamins, minerals, amino acids and glandular extracts.
Jones sent the “T-Anabol” to Korva Labs in Monrovia, California. Korva describes itself as “an analytical testing and research laboratory focused on the advancement of anti-doping sciences”. But Korva is best known as a private lab used by athletes and teams to confidentially conduct WADA-style blood and urine testing. For Jones’ pursposes, Korva provided an analysis of T-Anabol.
“T-Anabol” clearly look like it would have been the culprit. After all, the product is named after a popular brand name (Anabol) for the most famous anabolic steroid Dianabol (methandienone). The product is also marketed as providing “drug like gains”. And finally, the product allegedly contained “a little bit of natural test[osterone] and a little bit of growth hormone, nothing too crazy” at least according to Sebastian Quiroz of the Max Muscle supplement store in Jones’ home town of Albuquerque. Yet, Korva Labs found T-Anabol didn’t contain any testosterone or growth hormone and appeared to be entirely WADA-compliant.
Jones had pinned his hopes of explaining the positive drug test on the lab test results for T-Anabol. The absence of any banned substances in T-Anabol certainly must have cause significant distress for Team Jones.
A month later, Jones suspected the failed drug test could have resulted from the use of a product given to him by teammate Eric Blasich. Jones had asked Blasich for one capsule of Tadalafil. Tadalafil is the active ingredient in the erectile dysfunction medication marketed under the trade name Cialis. Tadalafil itself is not prohibited by the UFC Anti-Doping Policy. However, Jones wasn’t using Cialis manufactured by the big pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. The Tadalafil used by Jones was purchased from a “research chemical” company called All American Peptides (AAP).
Korva found All American Peptides’ Tadalafil to be contaminated with clomiphene and letrozole. USADA independently purchased 4 bottles of Tadalafil from AllAmericanPeptide.com and sent them to the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory (SMRTL), a WADA-accredited laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah. SMRTL confirmed that all four sample contained traces of clomiphene (Clomid), letrozole (Femara) and tamoxifen (Nolvadex).
While Jones has publicly claimed that the USADA report exonerated him and proved his innocence, this is not exactly true. USADA considered his use of these substances to be “reckless” and emphasized that Jones’ fault was placed at the “top end of the scale”. The USADA arbitration panel believed Jones was completely deserving of a maximum sanction of twelve months.
“The Panel repeats that the Applicant’s fault was at the top end of the scale. In short, the Applicant made an advance enquiry about a product Cialis which he did not take. He made no enquiry at all about the Tadalafil pill which he did take. He simply relied upon his team mate to tell him what it was and how it could enhance sexual pleasure. His degree of fault in fact verged on the reckless.”
Jones can take comfort in the fact that USADA does not consider him to be a “drug cheat”. In other words, it tacitly accepts Jones explanation that he never intentionally used the banned substances in question.
“On the evidence before the Panel, the Applicant is not a drug cheat. He did not know that the tablet he took contained prohibited substances or that those substances had the capacity to enhance sporting performance. However by his imprudent use of what he pungently referred to as a “dick pill” he has not only lost a year of his career but an estimated nine million dollars. This outcome which he admits to be a wake-up call for him should serve as a warning to all others who participate in the same sport.”