Dana White says it’s a good thing Jon Jones tested positive for cocaine. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
UFC President Dana White was surprised to learn that Jon Jones had tested positive for cocaine metabolites prior to his UFC 182 bout against Daniel Cormier.
The light heavyweight champion has since checked himself into a rehabilitation center. For White, the hope is that Jones comes out of this situation healthy.
“I was shocked obviously,” White said during a Fox Sports 1 appearance on Wednesday. “This is one of those situations where it’s so different than if a guy gets busted for performance-enhancing drugs. You worry about the person first, you forget about the fighting and the work side of it and worry about the person, Jon Jones the person.”
There has been plenty of discussion about how the UFC has handled the situation, including whether the promotion knew about the failed Dec. 4 test. White admitted that it was known prior to UFC 182 that Jones had tested positive for benzoylecgonine, but since it wasn’t a performance enhancing drug, there was no reason to cancel the pay-per-view main event.
“So what happens is they do these tests leading up to a fight -- random drug tests. He tested positive,” White said. “No. 1 he was healthy, No. 2 the reason you would stop a fight and the hammer would drop on a guy is because he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drugs.”
White reiterated that if the failed test had been for something on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s out-of-competition list of prohibited substances, the fight would have been canceled. But since benzoylecgonine is only banned in competition, the show went on as planned. Still, the fact that Jones was using cocaine is a cause for alarm.
“If you did that during a training camp, there is a problem. If Jon had tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug, everything would have gotten shut down,” White said. “The other thing people have to understand in this situation -- Jon Jones was contracted to fight, we have a contract with him -- and everyone thinks we can just say the fights off, but if he wanted to fight, he could fight.”
With Jones’ impressive performance at UFC 182, White cannot imagine how much better “Bones” will be inside the Octagon once he does rectify his substance abuse issue.
“He was evaluated by doctors. Nothing you saw in Jon Jones leading up to that fight would make you think he was using drugs. In a situation like this the last thing you worry about is his image right now. You worry about getting the guy healthy and whether you like him or don’t like him, he’s the baddest dude in the world. He’s the pound-for-pound best guy in the world,” White said. “What’s even crazier is, you do these tests to look for performance enhancing drugs. The stuff he was doing, it hurts you. It doesn’t help you in any way, it hurts you. Imagine how good this guy is going to be when he gets it straight.”
White also shed some light as to why the Nevada Athletic Commission was even testing Jones for cocaine if it isn’t on the list of banned substances out competition. Simply enough, the company who administered the test made a mistake.
“They made a mistake,” White said. “The guys who come and do the random drug testing made a mistake and tested him for street drugs. In the state of Nevada, whatever the athletic commission has, the public has access to it, so they have to release it.”
White and the UFC hope that this situation turns into a positive and leads to the long term health of one of its biggest stars. If the test hadn’t been taken, Jones potentially could have continued using the drug and ran into more issues in the future. The fact that this has been avoided is a blessing, according to White.
“Everything happens for a reason. It’s a great thing this happened. It’s a great thing this guy made a mistake; who would have known? We would never know and now we can get him the help he needs,” White said. “To sum it up, we are worried about Jon Jones the human being, the person and we aren’t worried the image of the sport or any of that right now. I applaud him and I support him.”