Mixed martial arts star Jon Jones tests positive for cocaine, enters rehab

Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones punching Daniel Comier during the UFC 182 event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Jan 3, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. -- PHOTO: AFP
Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones punching Daniel Comier during the UFC 182 event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Jan 3, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. -- PHOTO: AFP

LAS VEGAS - Mixed martial arts star Jon Jones, widely considered to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, tested positive for traces of cocaine prior to his eighth title defense last weekend, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC).

NSAC executive director Bob Bennett told ESPN.com on Tuesday that Jones, 27, tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion informed the NSAC that he had admitted himself into a drug treatment center.

"Jones has checked himself into a rehab center," Bennett said. "And at this time, I would direct any further questions regarding his situation to Mr. Jones or the UFC."

The urine test sample was collected on Dec. 4 and analyzed by a WADA-approved lab in Salt Lake City. According to a lab report, results of the test were issued on Dec. 23.

The test is considered an out-of-competition test, however, and according to WADA's banned substances list, benzoylecgonine is only banned in-competition.

Since the test is considered out-of-competition, the result of Jones' fight against Daniel Cormier on Jan. 3 - a unanimous decision victory - will stand.

Jones' representatives did not immediately respond to request for comment.

"We support UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones' decision to enter a drug treatment facility to address his recent issue," the UFC said in a statement.

"While we are disappointed in the failed test, we applaud him for making this decision to enter a drug treatment facility. Jon is a strong, courageous fighter inside the Octagon, and we expect him to fight this issue with the same poise and diligence. We commend him on his decision, and look forward to him emerging from this program a better man as a result."

"I am proud of Jon Jones for making the decision to enter a drug treatment facility," UFC president Dana White said in a statement. "I'm confident that he'll emerge from this program like the champion he truly is."

Jones' striking coach, Brandon Gibson, called Jones his "friend first."

"I'll be there for my friend through this challenging time," Gibson said. "I'll help him recover and do it for his family. Whatever he needs from me as friend, I'll be there to support him."

Reebok, which signed Jones less than a month ago, stood behind him.

"We commend Jon for taking the necessary steps to address this issue, and we will support him in any way we can," Reebok said in a statement. "The status of Jon's relationship with Reebok has not changed."

In May 2012, Jones was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence when he drove his car into a telephone pole in New York. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was fined $1,000 and had his driver's license suspended six months.

He became the youngest champion in UFC history in 2011, when he won the title at age 23. His eight consecutive title defenses rank third all time in UFC history.