Last month, the Nevada State Athletic Commission smacked Chael Sonnen with a two-year suspension after he tested positive for a pharmacy’s worth of unapprovedsubstances, following two separate random drug tests back in May. As Sonnen and PED-apologist Ralek Gracie see it, that suspension shouldn’t stop the American Gangster from headlining a submission-grappling event in California this weekend. But according to the NSAC, it should stop him from competing, and they’re pretty upset about it.
Bleacher Report’s Jeremy Botter broke the news that the NSAC is attempting to prevent Sonnen from competing at Metamoris 4, scheduled for this Saturday, August 9th, in Los Angeles. As Botter wrote:
“Multiple sources confirm NAC has threatened to fine Sonnen $250,000 per failed drug test violation if he competes at Metamoris. Sonnen has hired Vegas lawyer Ross Goodman to represent him in the case…Sonnen camp’s contention is that grappling is not fighting and suspension shouldn’t cover it.”
A follow-up report from MMAJunkie adds more details:
Directly after Belfort’s license was secure, the UFC announced that the Brazilian veteran would fight Chris Weidman in a middleweight title fight at UFC 181, December 6th in Las Vegas.
Belfort was humble and cooperative during today’s hearing, throwing himself at the mercy of the commission, but his version of events were never challenged. Here’s an excerpt from MMAJunkie’s report that suggests how toothless the NSAC’s hearing was:
Following Sonnen’s positive test, the Nevada State Athletic Commission released an amended complaint against the former UFC fighter, which lists the potential punishments that are in store for him: a fine of up to $250,000, the suspension of his license, expenses related to the complaint, and the requirement that he provide a clean drug test upon his next licensing application, which will probably never happen because he’s retired, but still, 250 large, good lord. At least he can afford it, considering he was previously “the highest paid fighter in the business.” [citation needed, obviously]
The Nevada State Athletic Commission struck a blow for fair, healthy MMA competition today, voting for an immediate ban on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Therapeutic usage exemptions (TUE) will no longer be granted to fighters, even for those who had been approved to use hormone therapy in the past. Furthermore, the NSAC will push other states to ban TRT as well, and won’t honor the TUEs approved by other state commissions.
And so, MMA’s biggest PED loophole has been closed by the country’s most influential athletic commission — and other state athletic commissions may be forced to follow suit. Vitor Belfort will have to fight clean in Nevada, along with everybody else who previously had doctor’s notes for testosterone.
It’s a good day for the sport. We’ll update you with any major developments that follow.
Which leads into today’s news that Belfort will indeed be applying for a therapeutic usage exemption for TRT in Nevada when his title fight against Weidman is officially booked. Ariel Helwani passed along the news on last night’s installment of UFC Tonight:
“He said he’s on TRT and that his doctors said he has to be on it. This has been prescribed and he’s planning on applying to be on a TUE for the next fight.”
Well, bullshit. For the sake of argument, let’s take Belfort at his word — he needs to load up on testosterone in order to function normally. Is that a valid reason for any athletic commission to grant him an exemption? You’re gonna let a guy use steroids because he’s too sick to compete without them? Honestly, that sounds like the worst reason to give a professional fighter a TUE. But hey, we all know that in Brazil, doctors are essentially Gods and their advice must be followed at all costs, no matter how ridiculous.
Well this is a welcome change of pace — a politician who not only understands and supports MMA, but is gutsy enough to step into the cage and try it for himself. The story of Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller‘s amateur MMA debut/retirement has been sweeping the Internet since last night. The 36-year-old Democrat and Las Vegas native grew up around Nevada’s combat sports scene, became a fan of the UFC, and began training in MMA a few years ago. The sport became “an absolute passion” for Miller, who spent the last year preparing for his first amateur fight.
That fight went down this past Saturday night at the World Fighting Championships‘ “MMA at the Lake” event in South Lake Tahoe, where the 6’4″ Miller competed in a light-heavyweight match against an opponent named Jamal Williams. As a favor to the Secretary of State, the match was kept a secret by WFC promoter Matt McGovern. And while Miller eventually came away with a second-round TKO victory, the fight didn’t exactly go as planned. As Miller explained to MMAJunkie:
“It was much different than sparring,” Miller admitted. “I froze a little bit. I had a tough time letting my hands go. I didn’t teep at all, which I usually do in sparring. I threw very few kicks. The gameplan was to set up a couple of punches and maybe a leg kick and take him down and try to submit him because he didn’t appear to have much jiu-jitsu. That’s not how the first round worked out at all.
“At the end of the first round, my cornerman came in, and I asked him, ‘Where’s the stool?’ He said, ‘There is no stool.’ I said, ‘You didn’t think this was going to go to the second round?’ He said, ‘I think you just need to relax, breathe and start listening to us because you’re scaring the hell out of us’”…
“I want to investigate whether there was any undue influence, whether the [Nevada Athletic Commission] gave any particular instruction and how they came to this conclusion…the whole sport is in an uproar. People are going crazy. If this was a subjective view that each of [the judges] honestly held, OK. I would still disagree, but then we’re off the hook in terms of there being no conspiracy. But there needs to be an independent investigation because it strains credulity that an event everybody saw as so one-sided one way all three judges saw it as close. It strains credulity.”
If I was Manny Pacquiao, I’d have no problem refusing the rematch in the first place. He beat Bradley, everybody saw him beat Bradley, and he gains nothing from pursuing a rematch outside of fulfilling a “revenge” storyline made possible by [ALLEGEDLY] corrupt judges. And speaking of [ALLEGEDLY] corrupt judges, here’s judge Duane Ford trying to justify his 115-113 tally of the fight in the challenger’s favor:
(Steroids: You’re doing it wrong. Bizarre photo-illustration via SportsNickel)
Last Wednesday, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed a bill that will provide more funds for out-of-competition steroid testing of MMA fighters, boxers, and kickboxers. The money will come from an existing ticket fee, and will pay for random drug screenings at any time, including training periods. The new law goes into effect July 1st.
Currently, the Nevada State Athletic Commission gets $1 per ticket sold for large MMA/boxing events, and 50 cents for smaller events that gross less than $500,000. Some of that money will now be diverted to year-round testing of performance enhancing drugs, both at a professional and amateur level.
It’s not the first time that Nevada has tried to do this. MMAFighting passes along some history:
Though Penn wants the fight to be changed to a no-contest, that scenario is unlikely; as NSAC executive director Keith Kizer explained to Sherdog, an MMA bout in Nevada can only be ruled a no-contest after the fact if scorecards were added incorrectly, if a referee or judge was paid off to influence the fight, if the referee misinterpreted a rule that effected the fight’s outcome, or if there was the use of non-approved drugs or steroids. Kizer explained that the actual purpose of today’s hearing was to prevent controversial greasing situations from happening in the future:
“What I see happening is something along these lines: a very strict warning to Phil, a warning to everybody that there’s no place for this, and maybe something [determined] along the lines that every corner can have one designated Vaseline guy and that guy can not touch the fighter anywhere else on his body, except for his face, until the end of the fight."
Bad news for mixed martial artists who’ve figured out that if you stop using steroids at a certain point before your fight, you’ll test negative — the Nevada State Athletic Commission has announced that it will begin random steroid and drug testing for all licensed fighters as well as fighters applying for licenses. As the article explains:
Selection of licensees for testing will be made in one of three ways:
1. Fighters may be randomly chosen for testing.
2. If there is some indication that a fighter is taking a non-approved substance, they may be tested.
3. If a fighter has previously tested positive for using a non-approved substance, they may be tested.
A fighter chosen for testing will be contacted by the Commission directly and given details on the ordering of the test and the timeframe within which testing must occur…If the test is not completed within the designated timeframe or if a fighter fails the test, the Commission may refuse to license the fighter, it may not allow the fighter to compete, and/or the fighter may be subject to disciplinary action.
In other words, steroids are no longer going to be MMA’s dirty little secret; if you look like you’re juicing (see #2), you will be tested, and most likely busted. As it represents another step toward MMA’s legitimacy in the eyes of the general public, we’re all for random testing, invasive as it might be. And we hope every fighter gets this memo, or else we’ll start seeing dozens of them go down in flames. However, for those who’ve relied on chemicals to reach their level of physicality, it may not be easy to just drop the ‘roids altogether. It’s like when Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” series started picking up guys who’d actually seen the show — the threat of public humiliation and imprisonment wasn’t enough of a deterrent for those sexual predators to change their habitual behavior.
Hmm…I’m not sure if that metaphor worked, but basically what I’m trying to say is, Bruce Buffer is a pedophile.