Chael Sonnen’s Suspension Reduced to Six Months Following Appeal

Written by Tom Ngo
December 2nd, 2010

UFC Middleweight Chael Sonnen

Following an intense day of debate, the California State Athletic Commission voted Thursday to cut Chael Sonnen’s one-year suspension in half. However, the UFC’s controversial middleweight will still be required to pay a $2,500 fine.

The chatty wrestler had been deftly silent since his failed UFC 117 drug test emerged on September 2nd. The pre-fight screening revealed significantly high levels of testosterone were found in his urinalysis.

Sonnen’s attorneys, Howard Jacobs and Steven J. Thompson, and physician argued their client had been undergoing Testosterone Replacement Therapy since early 2008 and had previously disclosed his testosterone usage to Commission members.

California assistant attorney general Alfredo Terrazas spearheaded the state’s case, claiming Sonnen did not follow protocol in clearing his TRT usage, which is allowed with proper and timely documentation from a physician. However, patients must still register normal levels of testosterone on tests.

TRT involves a synthetic form of testosterone, which elevates the body’s ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone. In Sonnen’s case, his test ratio was 16.9:1, where the normal threshold ratio is 4:1. According to the CSAC, while Sonnen’s test results of the ratio were high, triggering the failed exam, his actual range of testosterone was within the normal levels for adult males.

Sonnen’s lawyers rebutted Terrazas’ claim that he didn’t notify the CSAC, saying Sonnen went through the proper channels in his UFC 104 win over Yushin Okami in October 2009. Since everything went smoothly for that fight in Downtown Los Angeles, he was under the impression nothing more would be required from him for future events in the Sunshine State.

What led the one-time political hopeful to that conclusion was after he alerted Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer of his testosterone injections many moons ago. Sonnen claims Kizer told him that it wouldn’t be necessary to disclose his usage to anyone else in the NSAC office since he already got the go ahead from the top dog.

Sonnen assumed that since he previously got the approval for his Okami scrap, no additional documentation would be required for his championship bout against Anderson Silva in Oakland. What’s the old adage about people that assume …

At the end of the day, the Commission’s beef boiled down to the “D” word – Disclosure. As far as they were concerned, Sonnen didn’t notify them of his treatment when he should have or on the pre-fight forms as customary.

“In hindsight, looking back and staying up nights thinking about this, I still do not know what I could have done differently,” Sonnen said during the hearing. “I made a joke to my lawyers that outside of grabbing the microphone from Joe Rogan and making an announcement on live television, there was simply nobody else to tell that I was on testosterone.”

The reason for the reduction in his suspension may have been because the CSAC felt they played a hand by not informing Sonnen of standard operating procedure when he first notified the Commission about his usage.

Sonnen has already served three months of his ban, so he’ll be eligible to return on March 2nd, 2011. In case you were wondering, UFC 128 is rumored to go down March 19th in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

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