UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones has tested positive for a banned steroid, which could lead to him being stripped of his belt and banned from fighting for as many as four years.
"It's brutal. It's unbelievable," UFC President Dana White told reporters in a news conference after his organization announced Tuesday that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency collected a positive sample following Jones' July 28 weigh-in, the day before his third-round stoppage of Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 at Honda Center.
"If this holds up, and he ends up getting two, three [years], it's probably the end of his career."
The 30-year-old Jones (23-1) regained the light-heavyweight belt by landing a massive head kick that set up a pounding of 20 unanswered blows to the concussed Cormier on the canvas.
Cormier was informed of the news by White while vacationing in Hawaii, telling White, "This is crazy." Jones tested positive for a cocaine metabolite before their first fight, in January 2015, and was fined $25,000 by the UFC. A second positive drug test by Jones, before UFC 200 in July 2016, delayed their much-anticipated rematch that was headlining that card and forced Jones to serve a one-year suspension.
White said he needs to await a complete adjudication of the Jones case before deciding what happens to the belt. The California State Athletic Commission is empowered to declare the fight a no-contest and give the belt back to Cormier.
Jones previously was stripped of his belt and suspended indefinitely by the UFC in 2015 after being charged with a felony in connection with a hit-and-run.
TMZ Sports reported Jones submitted a positive test for the steroid Turinabol. Jones' manager released a statement that read: "We are at a complete loss for words right now. Jon, his trainers, his nutritionists and his entire camp have worked tirelessly and meticulously the past 12 months to avoid this exact situation. We are having the samples tested again to determine the validity or source of contamination. Jon is crushed by this news and we are doing whatever we can as a team, to support him."
The news came as fight week officially began for the novelty bout between UFC champion Conor McGregor and boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Saturday in Las Vegas.
"These things never come at a good time, especially with someone like Jon Jones," White said. "In my opinion, he's the best to ever do it. That makes it even more unfortunate."
White said he was working on staging a major fight between Jones and heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic for November in Detroit when news of the positive test reached him.
"I always know what to say," White said. "I don't know what to say about this one. He was the best ever, had the potential to move to heavyweight. … He has the size, power, everything to be heavyweight champion. Who knows what could've been?
"It's one of those sad stories."
8:20 p.m.: This article has been updated with more details and comments from Dana White.