Published 12:04 PM EDT Oct 5, 2018
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones isn't bothered by accusations that he "snitched" on colleagues in exchange for leniency from the U.S Anti-Doping Agency. But he is adamant in that they are simply not true.
"USADA asked me to do a lot of things throughout this case, but one thing I didn't do is snitch on anybody in MMA," Jones told ESPN.com in a wide-encompassing interview published Thursday night. "I definitely didn't give up any information on anyone in the sport, nor do I know of anybody who's doing these things in the sport.
"I think the whole snitching thing is pretty silly. It's interesting to watch people jump to conclusions about things they don't know what they are talking about. And that's all I want to say about that topic."
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Jones will be eligible to return Oct. 28 after an anti-doping offense led to a 15-month suspension by USADA. He tested positive for turinabol after a rematch against current champion Daniel Cormier last year at UFC 214, and, as a consequence, had the title he'd re-claimed that night stripped.
Jones faced up to a four-year term after the offense, given the fact it was his second USADA violation. But before his case even made it up to arbitration, he received a 30-month reduction from USADA based on "delivery of substantial assistance."
The rule, which some colloquially dubbed "the snitching clause," allows USADA to "suspend all or part" of a potential suspension for providing information "which results in a criminal or disciplinary body discovering or bringing forward a criminal offense or the breach of professional rules committed by another person."
The nature of that assistance, which Jones will have to maintain in order to keep his 15-month term, soon became subject of debate. While Jones' manager, Malki Kawa, was quick to deny that the former champ had told on fellow athletes, there were still those - including Cormier - who believe Jones has done just that.
But Jones says there are a few reasons why being labeled a snitch "doesn't bother" him.
"I understand who I am in this sport," Jones said. "I understand that I'm always going to be somewhat of a controversial athlete in our sport. I understand that I'm going to be a guy that's very fun to talk about whether it's for the good or bad. I'm just grateful to be relevant at the end of the day. When you are one of the better athletes in the sport, people are going to talk about you.
"I feel like everyone is never minding all the science that went into all this and they are trying to chalk it up to some kind of rat situation, as if they are saying Jon was guilty but he ratted to get out of this, but that can't be farther from the truth."
Jones said that, to this day, "we were never able to figure out" how the substance he was caught with got into his body, which has given him a level of "paranoia." He says he now carries a bottle of water with him almost anywhere and is extra cautious, not only with supplements, but even with the food and the drinks ingested in certain restaurants.
Jones was clear in stating that "I have never knowingly taken a PED" and said that, the way it was explained to him, "the amount of steroids that were found in my body was the equivalent of throwing a pinch of salt in an Olympic-size swimming pool."
That, he went on to say, means scientifically there was no way the amount would have led to an enhancement in performance - and that Cormier's criticism of USADA after their sentencing of Jones was just another way for the current champ "to blame something for him getting knocked out in our last fight."
Speaking of Cormier, Jones also dismissed the idea of a trilogy bout - in either of the two divisions that Cormier currently rules. "I already have all the marbles when it comes to Daniel Cormier," Jones said, and challenging for Cormier's belt at heavyweight would just make things personal when, on his end, they're not.
"I'm not the one who went home crying the first and second times we fought," Jones said. "That was him. There's nothing inside of me that wants to take things from him or make his life harder in any way. I just want what's rightfully mine. He can have what's rightfully his, and we can all get along."
As for what's "rightfully mine"?
Jones said he was offered a spot on the UFC's Nov. 3 event at Madison Square Garden but turned it down because he wouldn't have enough time to prepare. As it stands, "it looks like" a rematch with Alexander Gustafsson on Dec. 29 is the next step, though Jones clarifies nothing has been signed on his end.
"That would be for the light heavyweight championship," Jones confirmed.
The current 205-champ already has been made aware of the possibility that he might be stripped of his title in order to facilitate this bout- and expressed his dissatisfaction with the idea of Jones walking right back into title contention.
Jones understands Cormier's frustration. But he believes the champ-champ should see his side of things.
"If USADA came to the conclusion that all the science points to this being a complete accident and unintentional, a part of me feels like the belt should be handed back to me," Jones reasoned. "A part of me feels like I shouldn't even have to fight for the belt against Alexander Gustafsson because I was proven innocent. In a way, the belt was never his in the first place. He was given the belt."
For more on the UFC 232, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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