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Jon Jones free to return from October 28 after USADA confirms 15-month suspension

Reduced sentence could give former world champion the chance to return at Madison Square Garden on November 3

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Former UFC light-heavyweight world champion Jon “Bones” Jones is free to fight again in the UFC from October 28 after an independent arbitrator ruled he should receive a 15-month USADA suspension for his failed drug test at UFC 214.

Jones tested positive for banned substance turinabol after his spectacular knockout win over Daniel Cormier at UFC 214.

Jones’ stunning finish of “DC” saw him recapture the UFC 205-pound title he lost after a previous anti-doping offence at UFC 200, but news of the latest USADA indiscretion meant he was stripped of the title and suspended once again.

But an independent arbitrator ruled that Jones should receive a 15-month suspension for the failed test following a hearing held last week.

Under normal circumstances, and given the fact it was Jones’ second failed test, he could have been hit with a four-year ban from competition.

But USADA believed that reducing that suspension by 30 months would be more fitting due to Jones “substantial assistance” during the hearing.

The arbitrator agreed with USADA’s assessment, but reduced Jones’ suspension by three further months based on what was considered to be a “reduced degree of fault” and due to the fact that he passed multiple anti-doping tests in the lead-up to the Cormier fight at UFC 214.

Commenting on the case, USADA CEO Travis Tygart said: “The independent arbitrator found that Jon Jones was not intentionally cheating in this case, and while we thought 18-months was the appropriate sanction given the other circumstances of the case, we respect the arbitrator’s decision and believe that justice was served.

“This case is another strong reminder that athletes need to be extremely cautious about the products and supplements they use to ensure they are free of prohibited substances.”

The 15-month suspension is taken retroactively from July 28, 2017 – the date his positive sample was collected by anti-doping officials, That means Jones will be clear and eligible to fight again on October 28 this year.

It means Jones could potentially be set for a dramatic return at Madison Square Garden at UFC 230, with the former world champion already being linked to a light-heavyweight rematch with the man who pushed him harder than anyone during his title reign, Sweden’s Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson.

There is also the lingering possibility that reigning two-weight world champion Cormier could accept a fight with Jones for one of his world titles, though with “DC” looking set to face Brock Lesnar early in 2019, a bout with Jones may be left on the back burner.

Freelance sports writer and MMA reporter with 19 years’ experience in the UK's national media covering major sporting events including UFC world title fights, Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Championships, Grand National and the FA Cup Final.

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