By Michael James
The Tribe Sports
After hearing the utterly shocking and devastating TMZ report that Jon Jones tested positive for steroid use ahead of reclaiming his light heavyweight championship belt at UFC 214 in July, Daniel Cormier reacted the right way: he didn’t claim that he lost to Jones because of Jones’ alleged drug use.
Now, there may come a time that Cormier changes his mind and becomes as critical of Jones as he was before he was destroyed with a third round knockout that night, but for now, Cormier is handling the news correctly.
Simply put, he’s admitting that Jon Jones, even being a cheat, is the better fighter.
Despite TMZ reporting that the UFC has stripped Jones of his title, organization president Dana White stated that no such measure has yet been taken. But, rest assured, there is no doubt Jones will be stripped if it is determined without doubt that he indeed took steroids leading up to his preparation for the rematch against Cormier.
It’s just the right thing to do.
As would be Dana White and the UFC banning Jon Jones from competing in The Octagon for life.
Although many fighters, like Jones, have been suspended for drug use, per UFC rules, I argue that Jones should be banned for life because his continued pattern of behavior is even more damaging to the reputation of the organization due to his position as one of its brightest stars.
Having already tested positive for cocaine before a fight and having been suspected of drug use another time which derailed his initial rematch with Cormier, this test would declare – in no uncertain terms – that Jones is an incorrigible cheat who cannot be rewarded with continued involvement in the UFC.
Jones had to know the world was watching him with suspicion while awaiting his much-anticipated return. He had to know that he would be tested. He had to know that he quite likely would be caught.
Knowing all this, the question is: why would Jon Jones risk everything he’s worked for to get the edge provided by an anabolic steroid nicknamed T-bol?
The answer is that there is no good or acceptable answer.
While there is no way to quantify precisely how Jones was aided in his fight with Cormier by the use of Turinabol, there is no doubt that the drug provides its users with undeniable physical advantages. A quick Internet search reveals many video testimonials from steroid users as to how T-Bol, taken orally, builds and preserves lean muscle mass, increases strength, eliminates water weight gain and maximizes stamina.
Now, one must wonder whether Jones’ legendary reputation for never tiring is a byproduct of having gotten away with cycling off drugs in the past before testing could catch him.
For those who may not know, Turinabol has been heard from before. From 1968 until 1988, Turinabol was the drug of choice in the state-sponsored East Germany Doping Machine scandal that rocked international sports. In the days before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of Germany – and unbeknownst to even its own athletes – in an effort to gain prestige around the world, the East German government engaged in a prolonged and sophisticated drug program that turned its athletes into virtual cyborgs.
Over that 20-year period, East Germany’s team won more than 500 winter and summer medals – third most only behind the United States and Russia. The success of the GDR doping program was helped by the fact that tests had not yet been developed to detect it.
Nearly 30 years later, the toll of that illicit program is still unfolding as many of those unsuspecting athletes have developed depression, heart disease, degenerative bone disease and infertility. Some have even undergone sex change operations.
Another famous user of Turinabol was disgraced former Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, who was stripped of his tainted 100 meter Olympic gold medal from the 1988 games, and later banned for life after testing positive for drug use several more times in the ensuing years.
But back to Jones, and what this latest infraction means for him, Cormier and the future of the UFC.
For Jones, it should amount to a final strike. In addition to having the title stripped once before for disciplinary reasons, he already served a one-year suspension for a positive banned substance test – and jeopardized the UFC’s financial bottom line by that test forcing a postponement of the first scheduled rematch with Cormier in 2016.
What seems clear is that if Jon Jones would use drugs with the whole world watching him, there is no chance that he can be trusted several years from now after serving a 3-4 year suspension (or even longer) and possibly then needing some pharmaceutical help.
As for Cormier, who may likely have the belt returned to him? It would be best that he take – and stay on – the high road, as he did in the statement he released when the news of Jones’ positive test result broke. Cormier is a great athlete, but he simply isn’t the fighter Jones is, tainted or not.
“It’s hard to find words to describe how I’m feeling right now,” Cormier wrote. “I’m disappointed to hear the news. It’s very emotional. We, as athletes, are entitled to due process, and I will refrain from saying much more until I know exactly what happened.
“In my mind, on July 29, I competed, and I lost. I thought Jon Jones was the better man that day. I don’t know what to think anymore. I can’t believe we are going through all of this again. We will see what happens next.”
USADA, the United States Anti-Doping Association partnered with the UFC, is taking the official position of asking the public to allow due process to run its course. Jones has the right to appeal, and further action won’t be taken until his B sample is tested, which, in all likelihood, will reach the same conclusion as the A sample.
This will be when the real crap hits the fan and the UFC should put its foot down and take a zero-tolerance stance with Jones and all others to follow.
For Dana White, it’s time to deal with the elephant in the room: the credibility and respectability of an organization that White claims operates with the most stringent safety standards in mind for its athletes. If White is to be believed, he must take a stand. That stand should be this:
“Jon Jones may very well be the best fighter to have ever walked into The Octagon – but he cheated, and for that reason, he will never step into a UFC Octagon again.”
And if you care about honesty and integrity and fairness in sports, you will have no problem with that.
Michael James has spent more than 20 years in sports journalism as a general assignment reporter with the Detroit News, an NBA beat writer for the New York Daily News and as head writer for ESPN’s Quite Frankly With Stephen A. Smith.