Sonnen free to fight in March after suspension gets cut

ESPN staff
December 3, 2010
Chael Sonnen won the first four rounds against Anderson Silva © Getty Images

Chael Sonnen has had his suspension from MMA reduced to six months after his legal team argued that vital paperwork regarding a medical condition had been lost by the California State Athletic Commission.

Sonnen's initial one-year ban has been cut in half after commission members voted in a 3-1 majority. The UFC middleweight fighter had delivered an abnormally high testosterone to epitestosterone ratio in a sample given prior to his fight against Anderson Silva at UFC 117. Sonnen lost that bout, but came within two minutes of victory after dominating the champion for four rounds.

Sonnen's case was based on the argument that he had been undergoing testosterone replacement therapy since 2008 to address hypogonadism. His legal team claimed the appropriate paperwork had been passed to the CSAC in 2009, raising the possibility that it had been lost during the transition period that saw George Dodd appointed as CSAC head in February 2010.

"My doctor sent directly from his fax machine the appropriate letter that was requested by the California State Athletic Commission stating what the treatment was," Sonnen was quoted as saying by MMA Fighting. "Then it becomes a little bit murky for me, because the Athletic Commission has forgotten that happened. We received a phone call, they OK'd the medicine, and that has since been forgotten."

Sonnen also pointed out that he had notified both Dodd and UFC physician Dr Jeff Davidson of the treatment ahead of his bout with Silva, something Dodd later confirmed. However, when asked why he did not admit to testosterone usage when listing 'other medications' in the pre-fight questionnaire, Sonnen could only cite embarrassment.

"I don't have a problem with disclosing testosterone," he said. "What I do have a problem with is if somebody asks me why. I don't want them to say, 'Why are you on testosterone?' and I have to re-live my youth and not going through puberty and being teased. When I don't write that down, I don't want to write it down, but I shared it directly with the commissioner's office. I felt I went to the top, and I didn't need to do anything subsequent to that.

"In hindsight, looking back and staying up nights thinking about this, I still do not know what I could have done differently," Sonnen said. "I make 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."

Sonnen's physician confirmed that the fighter could not compete without the treatment he has been receiving, and the Commission ruled that the year-long suspension should be halved. As a result, Sonnen can return to the Octagon from March 2, 2011.

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