"Every day, when I get out of bed in the morning and my big toe hits the floor. There’s one thing that’s guaranteed: bad s--- is going to happen. It doesn’t matter if it’s Saturday, Sunday, Christmas, Chanukah or f---ing Easter, bad s---could happen, man. That’s the one guarantee I have in my life."
There have been few fights - if any ever - with as much bad s--- as the one that blew up today when Chael Sonnen failed a random drug test administered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. There will be no fight with Vitor Belfort at UFC 175 on July 5.
Originally, Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva were selected as opposing coaches for TUF: Brazil 3. That fight was delayed several times, most notably after a Wurrrl Staaarrr moment where the pair scuffled on concrete, injuring both.
Throughout, Sonnen said he suspected Wanderlei would pull out of the fight. Eventually Silva refused to take a random PED test administered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and no showed a meeting where he could have explained why.
Wand was replaced with Vitor Belfort, who has massive licensing issues of his own.
Belfort was originally scheduled to fight Chris Weidman for the middleweight title at UFC 173. But when the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned TRT in Feb, Belfort said he needed time to transition off TRT, and was removed from the fight. Then Lyoto Machida was put in, and after Weidman needed knee surgery, the fight was moved from UFC 173 to UFC 175.
On Feb 7, the Nevada State Athletic Commission administered a surprise test to Belfort, at the 2013 World MMA Awards. As Belfort recently revealed, the test showed that his testosterone level was notably above the therapeutic range.
Belfort was scheduled for a licensing hearing on June 17. There was no plan B if he was not licensed. However, if Belfort gets licensed, the UFC reportedly would like to use him on the card, vs. a fighter to be determined.
Brett Okamoto broke the story.
The NSAC randomly tested Sonnen last month while he was in Las Vegas to attend a UFC news conference. Results confirmed the presence of two illegal substances, Anastrozole and Clomiphene.
The substances Sonnen tested postive for are classified as anti-estrogenic.
Sonnen, 37, has stated he was diagnosed with hypogonadism in 2008, resulting in a low level of testosterone. He had been approved the use of testosterone-replacement-therapy (TRT) in his last six fights, twice in Nevada.
This is the second time Sonnen has technically failed a drug test. In August 2010, he tested positive for an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio prior to a UFC middleweight title fight against Anderson Silva in Oakland, California. The California State Athletic Commission suspended Sonnen for one year.
Sonnen appealed the suspension in December 2010, during which he revealed his medical condition and admitted use of TRT. The sentence was reduced to six months.
In May 2011, the CSAC suspended Sonnen indefinitely on suspicions of perjury during that December appeal. That suspension officially ended on June 29, 2011.
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When Testosterone Replacement Therapy was banned in Nevada, Sonnen underwent a program to wean himself from TRT, and restart the body's natural production of testosterone. Unfortunately, the drugs used to do so are themselves banned by the NSAC.
NSAC Executive Director Bob Bennett spoke with MMAJunkie about the failed test.
“I’m not a doctor,” said Bennett. “All I do know is that those substances are banned, and it will be interesting to see what Mr. Sonnen’s response is as to why they were found in his system. At this point in time, I couldn’t comment on that.
” … I’m sure his overall history with his moral character and his previous tests, I’m sure that will all be considered by the commissioners, not that I’m speaking for them. But I think common sense would dictate that you look at all the events that he’s been involved with, and that will be part of the equation to end up with the results.”
” … [The punishment] could be anything from accepting his explanation to a fine and a suspension. Not having all the facts on the table at this time … as far as any guidelines for penalties, it would be accepting some form of explanation that he has to be objective and fair, and if that doesn’t suffice because both drugs are on the WADA list and they’re prohibited, it could be a fine and a suspension.”
Sonnen defended himself in an interview with FOX Sports 1.
As Sonnen explained it, he was informed by his doctor that there was a 50-day process to get off TRT, during which he would take Clomiphene and HCG. That 50 day period ended on May 1. The drugs were supposed to be out of Sonnen's system on May 10. The test was on May 23, but still recorded the drugs as being in his system.
"These are not performing enhancing drugs," said Sonnen as transcribed by Shaun Al-Shatti for MMAFighting. "These are not anabolics. These are not steroids of any kind.
"[The NSAC] 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 in different places. Anybody that I could tell, that I could talk to about this, I did. These are the medications that you have to go on to lead a healthy life, and if you're asking me to choose between my health and my sport, that's not a choice I can make. I've got to choose health."
"I have a legitimate medical need for testosterone. I was not an abuser. I was a user of testosterone. So when you come off of this and you have a medical need, you must transition. Now what you'll take is Clomiphene and HCG. I took Clomiphene and I took HCG. That is what happened. Now this also serves as a fertility drug. That was on accident. I didn't know I was having fertility issues. That's not part of my life I wanted to share with you or anybody else. That can be very embarrassing, but now it's out.
"I've never had an opportunity to [tell a NSAC] official. The way that it generally works -- and fellow fighters will get this, I'm not sure that you or the viewers will -- when the commission comes to you, they will come to you with a form where you get to disclose anything that's in your system and why you took it. Basically, as long as you write it down and it's not an anabolic, it's not illegal, it's not a performance enhancing drug, you're going to get a pass. What they don't want is fighters who are trying to slip something through. This was a test done by USADA, it never came with that form. This is the only test I've taken in my history of competition and participation in Nevada that didn't come with that disclosure form.
"So I did the test, and the very first thing (after), I called and told my manager. I said, man, they never gave me an opportunity to disclose here. And we looked at the rules. It's not a performance enhancer, (so we figured) it's going to come back and we're not going to have an issue.
"I still haven't heard (from Nevada). I called them repeatedly today, I haven't gotten anything back. I went all the way to the attorney general's office, but they haven't called me back.
"An athlete does not have to remain off of medication 365 days a year. Not in the NCAA, not in the IOC, and not even with the Nevada State Athletic Commission. This is unprecedented. As an athlete, if break my arm and the doctor gives me Vicodin -- Vicodin is extremely illegal on fight night, but it's also an extremely appropriate medicine to cure somebody's pain if he has a broken arm. The message that they're sending here is completely wrong."
"This is how we find out the rules. They never tell us the rules until we find out we're in violation of them. So if I am going to continue to be in violation of the rules, then I will have to make another plan. I do not offer you today that I should be able to be around the rules. That's not the case at all. But the rules are very hard to follow when it's a continual moving target and it's not equal for everybody.
"Throughout my career, I have had a number of labels. But in nine months, I will have the label of parent and father. And I have to go through this and choose between having the label of being a father and a parent, or having the label of being an athlete, I am going to choose, every single time, parent and father. I know what I have done, and if I had to do it again, I would do the exact same way twenty more times."
Ariel Helwani reports that Nevada tells me that Sonnen's case will most likely be on the June 17 agenda.