Jon Jones is expected to retain the Ultimate Fighting Championship light-heavyweight belt he successfully defended Saturday, less than a month after submitting a positive test for cocaine.
However, Bob Bennett, the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday after news of Jones' positive test broke that he will explore discipline of the fighter who has successfully defended his belt eight consecutive times.
Jones was found through a Dec. 4 random test by the Nevada commission to have benzoylecgonine, a cocaine metabolite, in his system.
Yet, Bennett said, the World Anti-Doping Agency code does not allow for sports bodies to suspend a fighter from competition when the street drug is found in out-of-competition testing. A reported followup test of Jones was clean.
"The commission will address this [out-of-competition] anomaly," Bennett said. "That is an issue we will take up and [fighter discipline] is certainly an option available to the commission."
Under prior leadership, the Nevada commission suspended boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. nine months for a positive marijuana test.
UFC President Dana White declined to answer if his company will sanction Jones (21-1), who is expected to fight the winner of the Jan. 24 Alexander Gustaffson-Anthony Johnson fight on July 11.
On news of the positive test, Jones announced Tuesday that he had entered a drug treatment facility.
The UFC's July date is reserved for Las Vegas, so the state commission's pursuit of this issue could be impactful.
In documents reviewed by The Times on Tuesday, Jones' positive test was confirmed by the Salt Lake City-based Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in a Dec. 23 report to the Nevada commission.
Bennett said he knew of Jones' positive cocaine result before the champion defeated previously unbeaten challenger Daniel Cormier by unanimous decision on Saturday at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Bennett strongly hinted UFC officials knew as well.
"I work hand-in-glove with the UFC," Bennett said. "But that's a question you'll have to address with the UFC."
White and UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta declined to respond to that question.
"I am proud of Jon Jones for making the decision to enter a drug treatment facility," White said in a prepared statement. "I'm confident that he'll emerge from this program like the champion he truly is."
Jones apologized to his family and the UFC for the transgression.
"Mr. Jones' situation is unfortunate," Bennett said. "Fortunately, he had the courage and conviction to enter a rehab facility."