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Experimental evidence from the JET tokamak is presented supporting the predictions of a recent theory (Graves et al 2009 Phys. Rev. Lett. 102 065005) on sawtooth instability control by toroidally propagating ion cyclotron resonance waves. Novel experimental conditions minimized a possible alternate effect of magnetic shear modification by ion cyclotron current drive, and enabled the dependence of the new energetic ion mechanism to be tested over key variables. The results have favourable implications on sawtooth control by ion cyclotron resonance waves in a fusion reactor.