On Monday night, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones sat down with Fox Sports Live’s Charissa Thompson for his first interview after he tested positive for cocaine and went to rehab. We learned, among other things, that Jones has used other illegal drugs.
Describe for me the last few weeks.
The last few weeks have been bittersweet. More bitter than sweet. Definitely aware I won a big fight, achievement of a goal, really happy for that, but just had some bad news come out, so that’s really sucked.
Where were you when you got the call your test results came back positive with cocaine?
I was in Albuquerque, at home with my family. Dana White gave me a call and let me know what had happened.
What did [Dana White] say to you?
Dana said that the athletic commission had called him and let him know I had failed a drug test. And he was just really concerned, and asked how and why it happened.
I wonder how many f-bombs Dana dropped on that phone call. At least half a hundred, right?
Describe that day.
It was a nerve-wracking day. I knew I had done something wrong, and I knew that the test would show that.
Did you tell anyone?
No, I didn’t tell anyone, not even my own coaches knew that I was possibly dirty for a drug test, I kept it very private.
Did you think there was a chance the test would come back negative? Or did you know in your mind that this thing was going to come out?
I knew the test would come out positive, I just knew there was nothing I could do about it. I was stressed out about it, but I focused on what I could control, which was the fight.
Were you ever worried that you would be suspended or not allowed to fight at UFC 182?
It did cross my mind, being suspended or not able to fight, but once I got to weigh-ins, I just realized, no one had said anything to me about it, I maybe thought the test didn’t pick it up or something.
I guess Jon only did a tiny amount of cocaine and hoped the testing equipment couldn’t detect the trace amounts?
Why did you do that so close to the fight?
You know, that’s the big question. I definitely don’t have an excuse, I’m not here to make excuses for what happened. I did it, basically at a party. I think a coward would sit here and try to come up with this elaborate reason, or blame something, but I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to blame my friends, I’m not going to blame pressure, or stress. I’m not going to blame anything. What I will say, I messed up. It wasn’t a mistake, I can’t call it a mistake necessarily because I consciously did it.
Did you use cocaine any time between that positive test and that fight?
No, no I didn’t.
How often had you used cocaine up until that point?
You know, I had done it before, quite a few times in college, I experimented with it. But that’s really it, mainly just college, it was something I had dipped and dabbed into a little bit, but that’s it, it was never really an issue.
You did it in college, you did it this one time before the fight, and that’s the only time, and that’s the only time?
Yeah, pretty much. I’m definitely not perfect by any means. The drug was introduced to me in my college years.
That’s the first time you did it, in college?
Yeah, the first time I did it was in college. I do not dab into cocaine, it is not my thing at all. The night I did it there’s no excuse, I really don’t know what came over me or what made me decide to make such a poor choice, but I did, and now I live with it.
Is that the only illegal drug you’ve participated in?
I’ve dipped and dabbed in my fair share of partying, I’d say.
It’s amazing for Jon to say he did cocaine in college, then to say he’s not into cocaine at all. He just had an eight year dry spell and then decided to do it one random day in December 2014.
A lot of people will say and have said ‘Is he stupid?’ Why would you risk that?
The whole situation has been really embarrassing. It’s like ‘Cocaine, Jon, really?’, and I had to explain to so many people I’m not a cocaine addict by any means, or even a frequent user. I made a dumb decision, just got caught with my pants down in this whole situation. No excuse for it, I can just apologize and just try to do things better.
So you don’t think you have a problem?
No, I know I don’t. My friends and my team and inner circle, they all know there’s no room in my life to be a cocaine addict.
Dana said when those test results came back that he was horrified, ‘I didn’t see that coming, I didn’t expect that’. For many, it seemed out of character. Is it out of character, what happend for you?
Yeah, absolutely out of character. For me, it’s just a really embarrassing situation. Cocaine is such a dirty drug. The whole situation has been embarrassing.
Have you apologized to Dana?
Oh yeah, absolutely, sincerely, I apologized to Dana, Lorenzo, to my family, my brothers.
What did your brothers say to you when this news came out?
My brothers were both really disappointed. I think I embarrassed them in the locker room with their respective teams. One of my brothers said they see it a lot in the NFL, and it’s not as public.
Did you call your mom?
Yeah, she was one of the first people I called.
How did that go?
It went surprisingly better than I thought it would. She was very supportive. She said, ‘Jon, I don’t really care about your athletic career, or being somewhat of a celebrity or whatnot, I care about you’ and asked how big of an issue it was or how bad of an issue was it, and I told her it wasn’t an issue at all.
Who wants to guess if it was Arthur with the Colts or Chandler with the Patriots that sees a lot of players doing cocaine?
So you test positive for a drug not banned out of competition. Why do you think the results were made public?
I really don’t know. There’s a lot of questions that myself, my team, my attorneys are trying to figure out.
So you don’t plan on taking any action against the Nevada State Athletic Commission?
At this point, I’m not going to comment on whether I’ll be taking action against those guys or not.
There have been fighters in the past that have failed drug tests and been let go. Is there a double standard because of your success within this sport?
I wouldn’t say there’s a double standard, I honestly haven’t done enough research on people who have been let go in the past.
You don’t think you should be let go because of this?
No, if there were situations where it was a constant issue, or something like that, then I could see the conversation coming up. This job, and this platform means a lot to me.
In addition to your test coming back positive for cocaine, there was a lot of speculation around this epitestosterone level. Can you set the record straight on that?
Basically, the athletic commission did some tests and they obviously test for street drugs and for testosterone levels, and they tested both me and Daniel, and supposedly both of our levels came back a little bit lower than what is standard.
Which would mean what?
Absolutely nothing. Every man has a different level of testosterone, sometimes it’s high, sometimes it’s lower. A lot of people wrote these articles that possibly we were steroid guys or whatnot. Which neither of us are.
You have never taken any performance enhancing drugs?
I have never, ever taken any type performance enhancing drug.
I wonder, if Jon ends up suing the NSAC, will he then find it a lot more difficult to get licensed in Nevada for fights? Because I’m pretty sure the people of the NSAC are perfectly fine with being petty and vindictive.
Your mother mentioned something about rehab, so you entered rehab, take me into that. Did you make that decision to go to rehab, did somebody make it for you? How did that go down?
Me going to rehab, I would say was like a collective decision between myself and some of my business partners. They thought it would be good. I told them right away ‘Dude, I don’t have a drug problem, I just got caught’.
So why go to rehab?
They said ‘Jon, we don’t know if you have a drug problem or not. How about you go to rehab and let them decide on how healthy you are’, and I said okay, of course. I went to a rehab facility and did a 24-hour evaluation where I spoke with three doctors for about seven hours about drugs and the role they’ve played in my life, and my upbringing, and they came to the conclusion that I didn’t need to be an in-patient.
You didn’t need in-patient treatment? So they did the evaluation and deemed you essentially to not be addicted. You didn’t need in-house treatment, you then became an out-patient?
Right, so they put me in an outpatient house. I stayed there the next day, the whole day, with a bunch of different addicts. The counselor came to me at the house and he sat me down and said, ‘Jon, I believe you made a big mistake, and that you don’t need to live here with us full-time. But what I will do is continue to drug test you and come by your house about twice a week.
How long will that go on?
I don’t know yet.
So it’s completely random, they continue to test you?
Yes, the continue to test me on a weekly basis. Our counseling sessions will go anywhere from once, twice, maybe three times a week.
People from the outside are like ‘Twenty-four hours, that’s not even rehab’.
Yeah, and the thing is, I don’t know how the process works. So I feel like I’m getting chewed out for the way the program they put me on. But when I went to rehab, I was willing to stay there as long as I needed to be there.
I think the best option would be tell Jon he’s completed his outpatient rehab, then randomly surprise him a few months later with a test.
So, from the outside looking in, you’re ‘Okay, this guy was busted for a DUI, now he has cocaine on his drug test’, who is this guy? We’re just trying to figure out who are you?
Well, I’m trying to figure out who I am as well. Like anybody else, I have my own issues that I deal with, I have my insecurities, I have life that I have to deal with, just like you. Now that the whole world, the whole sports world knows, this is an opportunity, this is a huge opportunity for me.
Are you going to stop partying? You won’t do cocaine again.
Yeah, but I’m not going to sit here and say I’ll never have a drink or enjoy life. I think there’s a lot of people out there that can relate to me. The important thing is to learn from when we fall down, and get back up, and not beat yourself up too hard about it and try to do things better.
And you know what people will say to that? That you’re being honest and saying what you’re supposed to be saying, there’s some people that are going to be ‘Oh, yeah, that’s the PC answer, that of course you’re going to use this as an opportunity’, but to that, I guess you just have to do it, right, just show that you’re going to change?
Yeah, that’s it, really. The best way I can come back from this, really, is continue being a winner, and not let things like this happen again. And just to learn. It’s not a defeat if you learn something.
What do you think this does to your image now?
You know, I haven’t really had the opportunity to think about it deeply of what it does to my image. I’m really not too worried about myself right now, I’m really more concerned with what it does for a lot of my fans.
Your fans will watch this. What is your message to them, especially the young ones?
My message to my fans is that I’m sorry, that I’m really sorry for maybe betraying their belief or just letting them down, really. I have definitely let myself down, my family, my team, the UFC, my fans down. It really is just a sincere apology.
Did anyone else feel kind of gross regarding the question about what this does to Jon’s image? I’m not a huge fan of Jones, but seriously, don’t ask about his hashtag brand or whatever.