After the news broke on Tuesday that Chael Sonnen had failed a random out-of-competition drug test that has forced him off the UFC 175 fight card on July 5, fingers began pointing and calls of Sonnen being a hypocrite rang out.
According to Sonnen’s explanation, however, the matter is more complex than just saying the he was trying to get the upper hand and failed a drug test.
Sonnen explained on Tuesday that he wasn’t trying to enhance his performance – a la an anabolic steroid – he said that he had taken Anastrozole, Clomifene, and Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) to safely wean off of the now-banned testosterone replacement therapy that he had employed for years.
The crux of the issue, at least for Sonnen and UFC president Dana White, is that there was no weaning off process accounted for when the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned TRT. For the commission, it was simply a matter of one day TRT was legal, the next, not so much.
“I’m not shocked. This has been lingering. TRT was legal, then the Nevada commission said it’s illegal now, it’s gotta go away. There’s gonna be effects of stopping this thing cold turkey. It just doesn’t work that way,” said White on Tuesday’s edition of After the Game on Fox Sports 1.
“When it went away, they didn’t do a very good job of figuring out how to get these guys off it. When you get off it, you don’t just go cold turkey.”
The two fighters under a white-hot spotlight stemming from the ban are Vitor Belfort and now Sonnen.
Belfort failed an out-of-competition random test in February, but is just now dealing with trying to get a license to fight in Nevada, as he was scheduled to be Sonnen’s July 5 opponent after Wanderlei Silva was removed from the fight. Belfort is slated to meet with the Nevada commission on June 17 to try and clarify his status.
Sonnen was randomly tested on May 24 while in Las Vegas for a UFC 175 promotional press conference, and subsequently tested positive for Anastrozole and Clomifene, and then voluntarily admitted to using hCG, as well. All three of the substances are sometimes used to help men with hypogonadism, which Sonnen has. All three are also on the World Anti-Doping Agency and United States Anti-Doping Agency banned substance lists.
Those substances are also considered banned whether in or out of competition according to the publicly available WADA and USADA banned substance lists.
So, while the Nevada commission and most others had considered therapeutic use exemptions for TRT for quite some time, the ban was immediate with no transition plan set forth by the commission. It has been left up to the athletes themselves to come into compliance.
Wrong or right, White said it has been a cloudy situation, at best.
“This is between Chael and the commission, but the rules should have been laid out better,” said White. “Here’s the big problem, too. Even when it was legal, the athletic commission and all the doctors were never on the same page.”
It’s not that White is now trying to shift all of the blame away from his fighter and onto the commission, but he believes both sides could have handled the situation better.
“I think the Nevada State Athletic Commission could have laid it out better for how they were going to end this thing, what would be banned and what wouldn’t be banned for the guys coming off it,” he continued. “It’s a matter of they’re not very educated on TRT.
“And it’s Chael’s fault too because Chael should have called the athletic commission and said this is what my doctor told me I need to do to come down off this stuff and this is what I’m taking.”
Sonnen on Tuesday said that he will appeal the commission’s complaint against him.