Opinion: Breaking down the options for the UFC 230 main event

Despite the UFC being all set to make their third appearance at Madison Square Garden, New York City in ten weeks time, there has still been no announcement from the promotion regarding the main event.

We know the co-main event will see Dustin Poirier and Nate Diaz throw down in something of a lightweight title eliminator. While there can be no denying that it’ll be a fun fight, as a co main event it’ is something of a step down from previous PPV’s held at MSG.

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Jon Jones – The Turinabol Mystery Continues

Jon Jones had his date with the California State Athletic Commision last week and left with his pockets $205,000 lighter and his fighting license revoked. Despite all of the expert opinions and discussion, we are still non the wiser as to how he came to test positive for Turinabol after the UFC 214 weigh ins.

Jones has publicly proclaimed his innocence throughout the entire process. He was tested twice, on 6th and 7th of July, with both tests coming back negative. His post fight blood test ,taken on 29th July, also showed no signs of any banned substances. So how did Turinabol find it’s way into the former champions system?

There are a number of different theories and scenarios which are circulating on social media. I’ve taken a look at some of the more popular pieces of speculation below.

Tainted Sample

The idea that supplements made by reputable companies, recommended by nutritionists, might be contaminated with banned substances may seem far fetched. In the UFC alone, we’ve seen a significant amount of fighters test positive and point to tainted supplements as the reason. The majority of the time, fans appear sceptical about this explanation. There has, however, been a significant amount of research into the supplement industry and it’s produced some fascinating findings. In 2001 a study was carried out where 630 off the shelf supplements were purchased and tested for banned substances. Over 25% of the products were contaminated. Five years later, a further 60 products were purchased and tested. This time, over 22% of the products were contaminated. The problem is real, and with this information in mind it is not a surprise that we frequently see athletes fall victim to tainted supplements.

Jones and his team presented this to CSAC as his defence for his failed test. The difficulty with this explanation is all of his supplements and massage oils were tested and showed no signs of contamination. It’s hard to accept this as an explanation if all of Jones’ products were clean when tested.

Jones has said all along that he doesn’t dispute the findings of the test. Turinabol was in his sample and he accepts that. He just doesn’t know how it got there. His whole defence is built on him saying that he claims he wouldn’t do something like this. It’s a risky defence to take, in light of his history. With no plausible explanation as to how the Turinabol got there, he is on extremely thin ice with USADA. While his legal team may continue to push the tainted supplement explanation, it seems unlikely that this is truly what happened.

Intentional Use

The most popular theory, if you look at social media, is certainly the least complicated one. An overwhelming amount of people believe that Jones intentionally took the Turinabol. It’s easy to understand why. Given Jones’ history of self sabotage, it isn’t that much of a stretch to see this as just another example of him making poor choices. If Jones did take the substance intentionally, it surely has to be up there as his most stupid decision to date. He knew he would be tested that day. He knew he had passed all the random testing leading up to the fight. You would expect that he knew that Turinabol is designed to build strength over time. There is very little, if anything at all, to gain from using it once so close to the event.

If USADA believe that Jones cheated intentionally, he can expect them to throw the whole library at him. A four year ban would certainly be on the cards as they look to send a message to Jones as a repeat offender. The former champion’s defence in this scenario is a simple one. Why on earth would he take something like this knowing he was going to be tested? Unfortunately for Jones, that isn’t much of a defence. Especially when you could ask the same question of any of the errors in judgement he has made through the years.

Accidental Exposure

There is a theory doing the rounds on social media which feels somewhat plausible, if a little far fetched. The theory centers around his brother, NFL player Arthur Jones.  Arthur was suspended by the NFL in 2016 following a drugs test which revealed an anabolic agent in his system. At the time, Arthur attributed this to a tainted supplement.

There is speculation that perhaps Jon used a cup/bottle which was previously used by Arthur and that traces of Turinabol were ingested in that way. It sounds ridiculous, of course. Surely if that were a viable option, Jones and his team would have used it in his defence at the CSAC hearing. That said, if Jones is telling the truth, and didn’t knowingly ingest the banned substance, this theory deserves at least a token amount of examination.


Everyone loves a conspiracy theory right? While this is easily the most unlikely scenario of them all, it is still worth taking a look at the possibility that this was an act of sabotage. There are still a small number of fans who remain convinced that Jones has been set up.

Of course there are some huge questions to answer if we treat this as a serious possibility.

Who did it? Why did they do it? How did they do it? None of these can be answered and I’m extremely reluctant to speculate on who might have taken the trouble to spike Jones with the Turinabol.

There is only one aspect of this whole story which supports the idea that this is a set up. Why would Jones fail a test at the weigh in but test clean twice before this and once shortly after? The test that Jones failed was not a random test. As a veteran of the UFC, Jones would have known that a test was coming after the weigh in. It’s standard procedure. It makes no sense at all that he would risk having everything come crashing down around him in spectacular fashion, again, by taking something which he knew would show up on a regularly scheduled test. Yes, Jones has made mistakes in the past, but surely he wouldn’t be so stupid? Jones himself pointed this out as part of his defence in his CSAC hearing.

Given the lack of evidence to support it, it’s no surprise that Jones and his team have avoided suggesting that he was sabotaged. Yes it sounds ridiculous. Yes, it’s unlikely. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

What Next?

The reality is we’ll likely never find out what really led to Jones failing this test. It will be interesting to see the approach the former champion takes in his defence to USADA when the time comes. You can safely assume that they will take a dim view of the revelation that he didn’t complete the anti-doping tutorials he was required to do. During the CSAC hearing, Jones admitted that these had been completed by his management, with them forging his signature. Taking this lack of accountability into consideration, along with his previous issues, things don’t look great.

Between now and the USADA hearing date, Jones and his team are going to need to come up with a significantly better explanation for what happened.