("What, the pink shirt? I need to wear it for undisclosed medical reasons." PicProps: FightNightNews)
As expected, there’s a ton of fallout today from Thursday’s California State Athletic Commission hearing, which saw Chael Sonnen’s year-long suspension for a failed UFC 117 drug test cut in half. Reactions range from pious outrage that Sonnen got let off the hook to excitement that MMA’s best trash talker will be back in the cage sooner than expected to amusement that he had to spend at least part of the hearing publicly talking about his balls.
A lot of it was very boring and a lot of it was very strange. Sonnen referencing his late-teen puberty and citing the Americans with Disabilities Act as part of his defense were both admittedly pretty weird. All that aside, your feelings on this case probably boil down to whether or not you believe Sonnen has a legitimate, albeit sort of nebulous medical condition that requires the regular injection of testosterone. If you don’t, if you believe Sonnen, his attorneys and his doctor perpetrated a large scale fraud in front of the CSAC, God and everybody online yesterday, you’re probably pretty pissed right now. If you do believe him, then you likely think the commission’s ruling was the appropriate one.
Honestly, our personal opinions about what happened at the meeting seem kind of beside the point right now. In my view, the thing I’m really still waiting for someone to explain is this: After his suspension is up, will Sonnen be allowed to keep fighting while receiving the same testosterone replacement therapy, so long as he does the proper paperwork next time? If so, then what are we really talking about here? A technicality? An administrative error? Sonnen got confused about to how many doctors and how many times he had to disclose his medical condition? Wow that seems, uh, dull.
Assuming that the commissions are cool with Sonnen competing while continuing to mainline the man juice on regular basis then it appears (at least in the eyes of the law) his positive test wasn’t the result of a malicious attempt to gain an unfair advantage against Anderson Silva. Sure, by failing to dot all the “Is” on his prefight medical forms, Sonnen broke the rules and it feels like he was punished appropriately for it. It also feels like in reducing his suspension the CSAC tacitly admitted they don’t think Sonnen was trying to cheat.
Obviously, a lot of people are going to forever think of Sonnen as a con artist and a steroid abuser. Part of that is due to his public persona leading up to the Silva fight and part of it is because that’s just what happens any time a fighter’s name and the words “failed drug test” wind up in the same sentence. Additionally, Sonnen may be in some hot water with the bigger, more important Nevada State Athletic Commission after making claims about a conversation with director Keith Kizer that Kizer says never happened. In light of that, it doesn’t seem totally out of the question that a more thorough investigation of all this “testosterone replacement therapy” stuff could be forthcoming.
For now, we’re left to assume that as long as Sonnen clears it with whatever state entity is overseeing his fights, that he can compete while using synthetic testosterone under the supervision of his doctor. And that kind of makes all this seem like a lot of hype over nothing.