UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, speaking publicly for the first time since it was revealed he tested positive for cocaine, took responsibility for using the drug late last year but said he has never been more than a recreational user and does not have a drug problem.
“I had done it quite a few times in college, I had experimented with it, but that’s really it. It has never been an issue,” Jones said in an interview with Fox Sports 1 that aired Monday night.
Jones tested positive for a metabolite found in cocaine during a random urine test administered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Dec. 4 leading up to his title defense on Jan. 3. He said he did not use cocaine at any time between the positive test and UFC 182.
Jones did not reveal whether he had used any other illicit drugs, saying only, “I have dipped and dabbled in my share of partying.”
He was adamant that he does not have a drug problem.
“My friends and family know that there’s no room in my life to be a cocaine addict,” Jones said.
“I don’t know what came over me to make such a poor choice, but I did and now I live with it,” he added. “The whole situation has been embarrassing. … Cocaine is such a dirty drug. … I’ve had to explain to so many people that I’m not a cocaine addict — I’m not even a frequent user. I just made a really dumb decision. I really got caught with my pants down in this whole situation, and there’s no excuse for it.”
Jones said he knew as the test was being administered that he likely would fail it.
“It was a nerve-wracking day,” said Jones, 27. “I knew that I had done something wrong, and I knew that the test would show that. … I knew the test would come out positive. But I knew there was nothing I could do about it. I was stressed out about it, but I thought I’d focus on what I could control, which was the fight.”
He was worried he might be suspended. However, as the fight approached, his fears subsided.
“It did cross my mind, being suspended and not being able to fight,” Jones said in the Fox Sports 1 interview. “But once I got to weigh-ins and no one said anything to me about it, maybe the test didn’t pick it up or something.”
Asked why he would use cocaine so close to the fight, Jones said he simply made a poor decision.
“I definitely don’t have an excuse. I’m not here to make excuses for what happened,” he said. “I did it. I had a party. But I think a coward would sit here and try to come up with this elaborate reason or try to blame something. And I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to blame my friends or pressure or stress. I’m not going to blame anything. But what I will say is I messed up. It wasn’t a mistake because I consciously did it.”
There remains controversy as to why the Nevada State Athletic Commission made the results of the tests public. Cocaine, while illegal, is not listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned substance list during periods referred to as out of competition.
“There are a lot of things my attorneys and myself are trying to figure out,” Jones said. “At this point, I’m not going to comment on whether I am going to take any action against [the Nevada State Athletic Commission].”
Jones also maintained that he has never taken any performance-enhancing drugs despite test results showing lower-than-normal epitestosterone levels for both Jones and opponent Daniel Cormier.
“The athletic commission did some tests that tested for street drugs and testosterone levels. And they tested me and Daniel, and supposedly both of our levels came back a little bit lower than what is standard,” Jones said. “Every man has different levels of testosterone. A lot of people wrote articles that, possibly, we were steroid guys. … I have never take performance-enhancing drugs. Ever.”
According to Jones, he voluntarily entered a rehabilitation program, during which he was evaluated by three doctors who concluded he needed only outpatient counseling. Jones said he will continue to be tested for drugs on a weekly basis and have a counselor visit at least twice a week.
Jones has been fined $25,000 by the UFC for violating its athlete code of conduct. UFC officials said the fine would be donated to a substance-abuse prevention program.
“I’m not going to sit here and say I’m not ever going to have a drink or enjoy life,” Jones said. “The important thing is to learn when we fall down to get back up. Don’t beat yourself up about it too much and just try to do things better.”
Information from ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto was used in this report.