Jon Jones "respectful" of USADA ban and happy not to be declared a drug cheat

The UFC interim light-heavyweight champion has been banned for one year after anti-doping violation

Jon Jones

Image: John Locher / AP/Press Association Images

UFC interim light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones says he accepts USADA's one-year ban for an anti-doping violation and is happy not to be declared a "cheater of the sport".

Jones, 29, was pulled from the main event of UFC 200 after USADA flagged him for a potential anti-doping violation and an out of competition drug test in June says he tested positive for prohibited substances clomiphene and letrozole.

The mixed martial artist claims that the substances entered his system after taking a pill to enhance his sexual performance and not to enhance his sporting performance.

In a statement released on Monday evening, Jones said he was "respectful" of the outcome of the case.

"Although I was hopeful for a better outcome in the USADA ruling today, I am very respectful of the process in which they allowed me to defend myself," it read.

"I have always maintained my innocence and I am very happy I have been cleared in any wrong doing pursuant to the allegations made that I had intentionally taken a banned substance.

"I am pleased that in USADA's investigation they determined I was 'not a cheater of the sport'. Being cleared of these allegations was very important to me. I have worked hard in and outside of the octagon to regain my image and my fighting career and will take these next eight months to continue my training and personal growth both as a man and a athlete.

"Thank you to all of my fans, teammates, coaches, sponsors and to the UFC for their continued support."

Jones appearing before the media last July after it was announced that he had been pulled from the main event of UFC 200 because of a potential violation of the UFC's anti-doping policy. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The UFC also released a statement in which it recognises that Jones' violation was unintentional but highlighted "the care and diligence that is required by athletes" to know what they are putting in their body.

It read: "UFC is aware of the one-year sanction levied against Jon Jones as a result of his UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation, decided by a three-person arbitration panel held on Monday, October 31, 2016.

"UFC has been advised that the one-year suspension commenced on Wednesday, July 6, 2016. While the decision indicates no evidence of Jones’ intentional use of banned substances, it does highlight the care and diligence that is required by athletes competing in the UFC to ensure that no prohibited substances enter their system."

Jones looks set to return to action in the middle of next year.