UFC President Dana White Not Shocked by Chael Sonnen’s Failed Drug Test

June 10, 2014
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Dana WhiteAfter the news broke on Tuesday that Chael Sonnen had failed a random out-of-competition drug test that has forced him off the UFC 175 fight card on July 5, fingers began pointing and calls of Sonnen being a hypocrite rang out.

According to Sonnen’s explanation, however, the matter is more complex than just saying the he was trying to get the upper hand and failed a drug test.

Sonnen explained on Tuesday that he wasn’t trying to enhance his performance – a la an anabolic steroid – he said that he had taken Anastrozole, Clomifene, and Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) to help him safely wean off of the now-banned testosterone replacement therapy that he had employed for years.

The crux of the issue, at least for Sonnen and UFC president Dana White, is that there was no weaning off process accounted for when the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned TRT. For the commission, it was simply a matter of one day TRT was legal, the next, not so much.

“I’m not shocked. This has been lingering. TRT was legal, then the Nevada commission said it’s illegal now, it’s gotta go away. There’s gonna be effects of stopping this thing cold turkey. It just doesn’t work that way,” said White on Tuesday’s edition of America’s Pregame on Fox Sports 1.

“When it went away, they didn’t do a very good job of figuring out how to get these guys off it. When you get off it, you don’t just go cold turkey.”

The two fighters under a white-hot spotlight stemming from the ban are Vitor Belfort and now Sonnen.

Belfort failed an out-of-competition random test in February, but is just now dealing with trying to get a license to fight in Nevada, as he was scheduled to be Sonnen’s July 5 opponent after Wanderlei Silva was removed from the fight. Belfort is slated to meet with the Nevada commission on June 17 to try and clarify his status.

Sonnen was randomly tested on May 24 while in Las Vegas for a UFC 175 promotional press conference, and subsequently tested positive for Anastrozole and Clomifene, and then voluntarily admitted to using hCG, as well. All three of the substances are sometimes used to help men with hypogonadism, which Sonnen has. All three are also on the World Anti-Doping Agency and United States Anti-Doping Agency banned substance lists.

Those substances are also considered banned whether in or out of competition according to the publicly available WADA and USADA banned substance lists.

So, while the Nevada commission and most others had considered therapeutic use exemptions for TRT for quite some time, the ban was immediate with no transition plan set forth by the commission. It has been left up to the athletes themselves to come into compliance.

Wrong or right, White said it has been a cloudy situation, at best.

“This is between Chael and the commission, but the rules should have been laid out better,” said White. “Here’s the big problem, too. Even when it was legal, the athletic commission and all the doctors were never on the same page.”

It’s not that White is now trying to shift all of the blame away from his fighter and onto the commission, but he believes both sides could have handled the situation better.

“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 off it,” he continued. “It’s a matter of they’re not very educated on TRT.

“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 this stuff and this is what I’m taking.”

Sonnen on Tuesday said that he will appeal the commission’s complaint against him.

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  • Jim Nikki

    Hendo managed to pass & compete in less time than Chael had…

    • Manuel Lopez

      You sir, make an excellent point.

    • grashopper

      And hendo looked like s–t and he got lucky with shogun looked like s–t there to

    • Chris Morgan

      That is a good point. However, just because Hendo was able to do it doesn’t mean that Sonnen or any other known TRT user would have. Just because Adrian Peterson was able to have an MVP year the season following his ACL tear doesn’t mean that will be the case for any other NFL player with an ACL tear.

      With that being said, Dana is 100% correct. Both Sonnen and the NSAC are at fault in this case. This is a situation that could’ve easily been avoided if the commission had actually thought about what to do after instituting the ban and Sonnen (and/or his doctor) could have reached out to the commission to talk about how to proceed going forward.

      • Jim Nikki

        Dana White was correct in February when commenting on the TRT ban preventing athletes from competing in the UFC:
        “If you need that stuff to perform and compete, you probably shouldn’t perform or compete any more. Have I flip-flopped ever on my stance on this stuff? (If) it goes away, I don’t give a s–t.”
        Chael Sonnen, March 2014: “I have to look at this carefully, but they made no bones about it: It’s
        out. We all have to deal with that, whether we like it or not.”

        It’s now June…and both are saying it should’ve been implemented better now that one of their preferred “faces” of the company has been caught. Please. This isn’t a case of performance after an injury as in your ACL tear analogy, so I can not accept your analogy. This is a choice made by an athlete to continue competing by trying to find a way around the rules…vs an athlete respecting the rules, steppping into the cage against an opponent 30lbs heavier and letting the chips fall where they may – proving that it can indeed be quit “cold turkey”, if that athelete chose to do so – believing they didn’t need it.

        • Chris Morgan

          Do you have proof that Hendo quit cold turkey? How is the ACL analogy inaccurate? The fact of the matter is that just because something works for one
          person doesn’t mean it will work for another. How do you explain chemotherapy not working for every cancer patient or some people being able to lose weight easily while others have trouble?

          This is a question of physiology and not performance. Like I said, just because something works for one person DOESN’T MEAN it will work for another.

          • Jim Nikki

            What worked for Hendo was choosing not the cheat.

          • Chris Morgan

            or maybe it was the fact that Hendo couldn’t use TRT when he fought Rashad so he had some experience with what would work or not work for him versus others (i.e. Chael and Vitor) who have no experience on how their bodies would react off of TRT. Plus, Henderson has gone on record saying he wasn’t using much TRT anyway and that he was still trying to find a suitable, legal method to supplement his testosterone without TRT. For all we know, Henderson and Sonnen could’ve been on vastly different protocols. After all, Sonnen actually has a documented medical reason for his TRT usage. What was Hendo’s excuse?

            Either way, it continues to prove my point that just because Hendo was able to fight with a short turnaround doesn’t mean Sonnen would’ve.

    • ric simon

      how did that work out for him?

      • Jim Nikki

        He was able to step into the cage without being fined, suspended or having to make excuses for why the rules aren’t fair…so I would say pretty well.

        • ric simon

          yeh, he just had to make excuses why he got completely owned by a chump with almost no mma experience

    • Ian Price

      Hendo doesn’t have hypogonadism. His doctor simply thought he could improve his performance with TRT

      • Jim Nikki

        Doesn’t matter. The TRT ban did not have exemptions for those with hypogonadism or any other condition & Chael knew that when he signed the bout agreement. Like Hendo, you either know you have to test clean to compete or retire…you don’t sign a bout agreement and try to find away around the rules essentially saying 4+ months isn’t enough time for you to find a legal way around the rules.

  • Christina

    So instead of selling tickets for fights that are going to be cancelled, maybe there just shouldn’t be any fights scheduled until let’s say next year. Then there won’t be any excuses. Right?

  • Blaze

    Will Dana White ever realize that Nevada ruins fights? It’s kind of their thing…

    • Chris Morgan

      He’s aware of it. The problem is that even with the commission’s faults, the UFC does well in Vegas and is unlikely to give that up anytime soon.

  • Timothy Malone

    You have to wonder if he expected this all along considering Sonnen vs Silva was moved from a headlining spot in Brazil to supporting an already very stacked UFC 175, where its cancellation would make little difference.

    • reply

      It got moved because of Wandy’s injury and once it was on the 175 card it was never going to be a headliner.

    • Wolf Ticket

      You think that if they expect troubles passing drug tests, they would move the fight from Brazil to Vegas?

  • little big foot

    So how did Dan Henderson not get flagged?. He had been coming off Trt the least amount of time.

    • reply

      Dan said he was never using that much anyway. Might not have needed anything to help him come off it.

      • Wolf Ticket

        That explains why he was destroyed by Vitor.

  • Ian Price

    I think they should let Vitor and Chael fight anyway, and they can also add that there are no longer any misunderstandings, and after 6 months of the February rule chance, so starting August, everybody has to have their act together. Just my opinion, since TRT is meant to protect opponents of users, but in this case, there is no need since both came off the stuff around the same time, so the risks sort of cancel each other out.

  • Collideoverme

    If it is legal within the normal guidelines, meaning if trt is legal to use unlike anabolic steroids, why not just let them use them? This back and forth on whether or not it should be banned even when used to keep an athlete within the “normal” guidelines is ridiculous. Knowing that there are fighters who take it legally, and then just cutting them off is going to either get someone hurt, cause physical harm to the athlete who needs to take it, etc. They should have randomly tested any fighters who do take it during their fight camps. Make sure they are not abusing it and cycling off. The commission could have taken a step like that to fairly keep the fighters who apply for exemptions in check. And another thing. To those who say the fighters should just stop because they get older…who are you say when a fighter should quit? Although some fighters do other things outside of the ufc, some don’t. I think the Nevada commission needs to rethink the trt ban.

  • I’ve Lost My Smile

    It is clear once the NSAC banned TRT and stopped giving exemptions then that is just the way that it is. It isn’t their job to tell these guys how long they have to get clean just that when they get tested they need to be clean.

    Chael didn’t have to fight on this card that was his and the UFC’s decision if his Dr has been trying to get him clean then his Dr should have had a timetable if that timetable said it will take him 6 months or 1 year, that is on the individual to be clean before they attempt to fight.

    Why blame the commission they gave you the rules, if you were still not clean why try to fight until you know your body no longer has banned substances?