A lot of blame has been thrown around since word of Chael Sonnen’s failed drug test and subsequent removal from UFC 175 broke yesterday. Some are blaming the Nevada State Athletic Commission for their lack of foresight in banning TRT yet providing fighters currently on the therapy with no means or information on how to adjust to life without it. Some are blaming Sonnen for failing to disclose the banned substances he was on to NSAC prior to his drug test last month. There are even some MMA media members out there crazy enough to blame the UFC for rushing guys like Sonnen and Belfort into fights without first understanding how long their bodies would need to adjust to post-TRT life. Hope you enjoy getting blacklisted, fellas!
In order to help clear things up, both Chael Sonnen and Dana White appeared on FS1′s America’s Pregame last night, because Sonnen is not as expendable a fighter as say, Jason High and thus requires his boss’ assistance when putting out fires. While Sonnen opted to expand on his interview with Jay Mohr Sports that was published just hours beforehand, White fell back on his usual mix of finger-pointing and blatant lies delivered at just below shouting level.
Both are at fault. 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 down off of it. But again, it’s a matter of them not being very educated on TRT. It’s the thing that made this whole thing impossible anyway. 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 of this stuff, so here is what I’m taking.’ He absolutely should have done that.
Just to clear the air here, nobody is on TRT. And, we only had five guys out of over 500 that were ever on TRT, and it was absolutely legal.
Well thank God the UFC isn’t to blame in any way, shape, or form for this (*wipes sweat from forehead*). Dodged a bullet there, boys. Also, the number of fighters who have ever fought in the UFC while on TRT is a lot closer to 15 than 5. No biggie.
Check out White’s full interview above, then head after the jump for Sonnen’s much lengthier defense.
Sonnen’s appearance on America’s Pregame was a little more successful, I guess. The former title challenger, who is planning to file an appeal on the ruling when his hearing comes up, admitted to being completely transparent about what he would have to take to make it through the transition period of a post-TRT lifestyle:
Look, they changed the rules, and I’ve got to comply with the rules. I don’t resist that at all. However, there is a transition period, and I couldn’t have been more open or more transparent, whether it was ‘UFC Tonight,’ whether it was different interviews or different places. Anybody that I could tell that I could talk to about this, I did.
And indeed, the Nevada State Athletic Commission dropped the ball when it came to actually informing athletes on TRT how to adjust to life without it. Then again, when hasn’t NSAC proven their complete incompetence when it comes to the sport they are supposed to be presiding over?
There is at least one obvious difference between Sonnen’s version of the truth and the actual truth, however: NSAC changed their ruling on TRT, not the prohibited substances Sonnen was recently caught with in his system. Of course, it’s when Sonnen explains his reasoning for not disclosing the fact that he was on post-cycle drugs that things begin to get even more murky:
I had no opportunity to go before the commission – I had not spoken to them, but I’m saying I had done other interviews. Anywhere where it had come up. The only opportunity you’re ever given to disclose a medication that you’re in is in competition. When the state of Nevada comes to you, you do have a form that you can fill it out. This was an out-of-competition (test). This was done by a separate lab known as [the United States Anti-Doping Agency]. It’s the finest lab in the world. But these were also strangers. This was not the Nevada State Athletic Commission that came to me, and there was no attempt to have a disclosure form.
But even if I had disclosed or hadn’t, you have to understand, this is out of competition. An athlete does not have to remain off medication 365 days of the year – not the NCAA, not [with] the [International Olympic Committee], and not even with the Nevada State Athletic Commission. This is [unprecedented]
First off, “out of competition” is not a term that can be applied to MMA like it can professional football — a fighter can literally be called up to fight for whatever reason (replacing an injured opponent, for instance) on a moment’s notice — and Sonnen should know this better than anyone. He did, after all, attempt to wiggle his way into a title shot against Jon Jones less than a day out from when the fight was scheduled. “In competition” in MMA is an indefinable concept, ranging anywhere from a couple months to a week, and is simply being used as a technicality to hide behind here.
Secondly, it’s not as if Sonnen, one of the more intelligent fighters in the UFC, was simply powerless to inform NSAC of his condition and how it could affect him professionally. The NSAC’s official website has a “Contact Us” page wherein their phone number, fax number, email, and address are clearly listed, so for Sonnen to act as if he had “no opportunity” to reach out and maybe inform the commission that he was on banned substances is a bit presumptuous to say the least.
Oh yes, speaking of those banned substances. Sonnen was insistent that neither Anastrozole and Clomiphene, two of the three non-steroidal, non-anabolic substances he tested positive for, are only banned “in competition.” This is completely false, as one look over the 2014 Usada Prohibited List will reveal that both are considered “prohibited hormone and metabolic modulators” both in and out-of-competition. Written in bold. On page 5 (S4) of a 10 page document. The idea of in vs. out of competition, shaky as it may be, holds no bearing here. Sonnen likely knew this, hence his decision to simply not disclose the substances he was on until it was too late, as he has done before.
So yeah, this whole debacle kind of falls into a moral grey area with multiple parties at fault, as stories about banned substances in professional sports and the athletes who use them so often do. The lesson, kids: Don’t start using drugs, so you don’t have to do the other drugs that help you get off the first drugs.