Mike Jones knows nobody is going to believe him.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats receiver was suspended by the CFL for two games Tuesday after failing a test for performance-enhancing drugs.
He has no plausible explanation other than a soft-spoken, if vehement, denial of intentionally taking a banned substance.
“It’s been hard to sleep at night because I pride myself on being a high-character guy,” Jones said. “The whole thing is difficult. It’s disappointing because I know I didn’t purposely do anything.”
Jones was selected for random testing on Aug. 9 and informed after last Friday’s loss that he’d tested positive for something called dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, which is sold under the brand name Oral Turinabol or Oral-T. He was given the option to appeal but was told he had little chance of winning it.
“You go back and research, think on everything you could have possibly taken and if you know what it could have possibly be, then you have a stronger case for appeal,” Jones said.
“Since I have no clue where it came from, I don’t have a very strong case so I’d rather serve my suspension and get it out of the way.”
Jones says he had all his supplements — protein, branch-chain amino acids and a rehydration drink — tested both before and after his positive test and the results were negative for any banned substances.
Oral Turinabol is an anabolic steroid that rose to prominence during the government-run East German doping programs in the 1970s and 1980s.
While no longer produced by reputable drug companies, it is still readily available on the black market where those looking to add bulk use it mostly for recovery purposes.
But it does not clear the body quickly and is easily detectable, making it an uncommon choice for professional athletes.
Random testing is conducted by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) year-round, according to the CFL.
A player who tests positive under the new policy faces a two-game suspension for a first doping violation, second is nine games, third is a one-year ban and a fourth is a lifetime ban from the CFL. Any player testing positive is subject to mandatory testing thereafter.
Jones says he was drug-tested in high school and in college but this is the first time it’s happened as a professional.
Jones was selected in the second round by the Ticats in the 2016 CFL draft and played eight games last season and all 11 this year.
“They tell us before every season that every player could be tested at any time, that it’s completely random,” he said. “You know you’re going to be tested so you’d be an idiot to do it purposely.”
There are several other athletes who have tested positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone who have also claimed innocence, including former Toronto Blue Jay Chris Colabello and UFC fighter Frank Mir.
“It’s the exact same story and if I knew Colabello, I’d reach out to him to see if he ever found out,” Jones said. “It’s a scary to think you don’t know where it came from.”
Head coach June Jones said he was “disappointed” in Jones but said he would remain with the club during the suspension, something that’s at the discretion of the team.
Several teammates said privately they were surprised by the positive test, given Jones’ character.
“You want to support him and he needs to be here — he doesn’t need to be hurt anymore,” Jones said. “I want him here.”
This is just the latest setback for Jones in what’s been a challenging season for him.
While he’s registered 25 receptions for 267 yards, he’s also had some key drops and lost two fumbles this year, including one last week in the loss to Saskatchewan.
“Every player is going to have their ups and downs and it’s about how you overcome the downs,” Jones said. “I’m at a point where I’m going downhill so I just have to overcome it.”