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Chael Sonnen rips Jon Jones, who he suspected of cheating, after failed drug test

Chael Sonnen knows a thing or two about flunking a drug test. He’s a repeat offender in his career and knows what it’s like to be in the shoes of UFC light heavyweight Jon Jones after news broke that he’d tested positive for a banned substance stemming from his UFC 214 title victory over Daniel Cormier.

On Tuesday, the UFC and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which oversees the UFC’s drug testing program, revealed Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) had failed an in-competition drug test the night before his UFC 214 bout with Cormier (19-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC), which he won by third-round knockout.

The result marked the second time in 13 months that Jones had been notified of a failed drug test, along with one that led to his last-minute removal from UFC 200 in July 2016. Sonnen’s (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) multiple offenses during his own career cost him three years of competition time, so he can relate to what Jones is going through, even if the news doesn’t come as a personal shock.

“It’s not great,” Sonnen said during Wednesday’s edition of “SportsCenter” on ESPN. “I remember the old days where the only marquee fighter failing a drug test was me. But all of a sudden it’s become a little more common. It wasn’t a big surprise. I can tell you as a guy who lived on that side of the tracks that as soon as I saw Jon Jones with his shirt off that he was using something. I also thought that because he was coming in off a suspension that he must have found a way to maneuver around the test. It appears that he did not.”

Although Jones, who earned a first-round TKO over Sonnen at UFC 159 in April 2013, still has the right to due process and could potentially have his name cleared by USADA as has been in the case with other athletes in the past, the immediate fallout from the situation looks grim.

Jones could face a maximum punishment of four years, and if that’s the case UFC President Dana White said the chances of “Bones” ever returning to the octagon would be slim. Sonnen said he doesn’t believe Jones will be out that long, and instead predicted a two-year sentence. If that’s the case, he said this won’t be the end of Jones as an active fighter.

“I don’t think this will be the end of Jon Jones’ career,” Sonnen said. “I think this will blow over and he will be able to come back. Jon Jones was never the draw the media reported him to be. He doesn’t have any T-shirt records, he doesn’t have live gate records and he certainly doesn’t have pay-per-view records.

“The point that I’m making is, politics do matter in this situation. A situation like this, it’s good to have a friend on the inside. I don’t know that Jon has many bridges left. He likes to set fire to them as much as he likes to put a needle in his butt. It’s not great for Jon Jones, but there’s no way I can sugarcoat it.”

As far as the discussed future fight between Jones and former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, the chances of that happening have been greatly reduced, Sonnen said. The pair built some hype around a potential fight before and after UFC 214, but with Jones future in the air and Lesnar still required to serve more than six months of suspension time for a drug test failure of his own, the fantasy fight appears to have been squashed.

“That’s not going to happen,” Sonnen said. “I think that had a lot more legs to it than people thought, but Jon Jones is going to be knee-deep in red tape for a while. I don’t think that he’s going to get anything less than two years. He also has to fight this battle on two fronts: He has to deal with the California State Athletic Commission, where his last match with Daniel Cormier took place, and then he’s going to have to deal with USADA. They do not have to agree with one another.

“Whoever gives him the bigger, longer punishment is what he’s going to have to serve. That’s going to be at least two years in my opinion.”

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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