UFC President Dana White Grapples with Simple, but Tough, Decision to Fire Chael Sonnen

July 2, 2014

Chael Sonnen UFC 167 Open WorkoutsFollowing a second failed drug test in as many weeks, Chael Sonnen unceremoniously had his broadcasting services agreement with FOX and the UFC terminated.

Sonnen retired in the fallout from his first positive test result for banned substances. He said that the substances he took were necessary to try and deal with coming off of testosterone replacement therapy, for which there is no longer an allowance for a therapeutic use exemption.

That test was conducted on May 24 in Las Vegas. A second test, prior to knowing the results of the first, was conducted on June 5 in Portland, Ore.

Sonnen tested positive for the same prohibited substances in the second test, but also tested positive for two additional prohibited substances, human growth hormone (hGH) and recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO). Both are well known performance-enhancing substances that are much more difficult to explain away.

And Sonnen thus far has not tried to explain them.

Following the second positive test, and especially with the additional performance enhancers, FOX and the UFC decided to act.

Sonnen had become popular as a colorful broadcaster on UFC Tonight and other FOX/UFC broadcasts, but the TV partners felt that there was no choice but to terminate Sonnen’s broadcasting services contract.

“It’s very hard for me because I care about him a lot as a friend,” UFC president Dana White said in an exclusive interview with UFC.com on Tuesday. “I like Chael Sonnen, so it’s a tough one, man. He had four banned substances in his body, so what are you going to do?”

Despite his often-polarizing persona when he was trash talking and pumping up a fight, away from the camera, Sonnen is an affable, considerate person. So for White, terminating Sonnen’s contract was the decision that had to be made, but it wasn’t an easy one to come to terms with.

“The hardest part about it is that Chael Sonnen is a very intelligent guy and look what it’s done. It’s just terrible,” White continued. “If it happened to a guy that was not as bright, you’re like, ‘it’s unfortunate, but the guy isn’t very bright.’ You have to be a real stupid (expletive) idiot to mess around with drugs right now in this sport.”

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