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Jon Jones off UFC 200 card due to positive drug test

Jon Jones attends a UFC 200 news conference Wednesday in Las Vegas.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Jon Jones was pulled from the UFC 200 main event Wednesday after being notified by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that he has submitted a positive sample for a banned performance-enhancing substance.

Jones’ bid to recapture the light-heavyweight belt that was stripped from him and won by his scheduled Saturday opponent Daniel Cormier is being replaced on the main event of the card by the heavyweight comeback of former champion Brock Lesnar against top-10 contender Mark Hunt.

Jeff Novitzky, in charge of UFC’s fighter health and welfare, said USADA will preside over a “full, fair” process before any penalties will be imposed against Jones, 28.

As testing of Jones’ “B” sample awaits from a sample taken June 16, the troubled former champion could face a two-year suspension from the UFC if a positive test for the undisclosed substance is repeated, disappointed company President Dana White told reporters at a hurriedly called evening news conference.

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“If it’s true, obviously super disappointed,” White said after learning of Jones’ positive while eating dinner at a Las Vegas steakhouse.

White didn’t immediately contact Jones, and said, “I’ll see what he says to me.”

Jones (22-1) was formerly the UFC’s top-ranked pound-for-pound fighter before his life began to derail days after his Jan. 3, 2015, unanimous-decision victory over Cormier.

First, it was revealed that a pre-fight drug test found cocaine in his system. After a one-day rehab stint, Jones in April 2015 crashed his car into that of a pregnant woman, who suffered a broken arm, with an off-duty policeman reporting Jones fled the scene with wads of cash and drug paraphernalia left behind in his car.

His belt was stripped at that point and an original rematch with Cormier was delayed by a Cormier training-camp injury, leaving Jones to fight a replacement bout in April after another brush with the law over street racing.

“This one stings, this is not easy to deal with,” said Cormier (17-1), who fought onstage with Jones before last year’s bout and has criticized the former champion’s reckless living. “It looked like he was doing good. He said all the right things, put a team in place, had a crisis-management coach. It’s very surprising.

“USADA is cleaning up our sport … you’re going to have casualties. It’s very sad, from the competitive standpoint, from a financial standpoint … . This chapter in my life has been dragging and it’s making me ugly. I’ve got to move forward. I’m here to fight and be an example for kids to look up to.”

This chapter in my life has been dragging and it’s making me ugly. I’ve got to move forward.

Daniel Cormier

White was in contact with a UFC matchmaker about an emergency replacement foe for Cormier.

The UFC president said he was thankful the loaded card still retained a women’s bantamweight title fight between champion Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes, along with an interim featherweight title bout between former champion Jose Aldo and former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.

Still, with aspirations to surpass UFC 196 as the best-selling pay-per-view card in company history, changing advertising for the bout two days before it starts complicates that mission.

Only two days earlier, Jones had jokingly texted White that he’d broken his thumb and couldn’t fight.

White said he had no regrets about his and UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta’s decision to institute USADA drug-testing last year.

“This is the way it should be. We have the best [drug-testing] program in all of sports,” White said. “I must’ve jinxed myself, because I kept going, ‘Everything is going so smooth,’ nobody had been hurt. This was a pretty brutal phone call.”

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