UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen recently went before the California State Athletic Commission to appeal his failed UFC 117 pre-fight performance enhancing drug screening. It was determined during the hearing that Sonnen was guilty of failing to properly disclose a testosterone boosting medication he takes as part of medically cleared testosterone replacement therapy and not of abusing the medication as his testosterone level never exceeded the allowable limit. As a result, his sentence was reduce from one year to six months and his fine of $2,500 was upheld. Sonnen had refrained from speaking publicly about the incident since it was initially brought to light, but broke his silence following the hearing in an interview with Mike Straka on Inside MMA. (Props to FightersOnly.com for the transcription)
“I was found not guilty on the substance misuse issue; you use the term steroids but that’s a big ‘catch all,'” Sonnen explained. “Strictly speaking testosterone falls in the category of steroids but that’s like saying that mouthwash comes under alcohol or cough syrup falls under alcohol. Its not exactly the same thing.
“What we’re talking about is a medicine versus an illegal substance,” he went on. “I was never accused or suspected of using an illegal substance. That was an online rumour that was created and perpetuated and I never stepped in to stop it. But I was accused of using testosterone without the proper disclosure. And still to this moment I don’t know what the proper disclosure is that they were looking for.”
Though Sonnen has his issues with the clarity provided by the CSAC concerning the issue, he explained to Straka that he is accepting of his punishment as he is a firm proponent of regulatory bodies overseeing MMA and believes the rules should always be enforced. Sonnen, who saw his position in the middleweight division become slightly muddled as a result of his suspension, claimed that his only issue with the commission was that he felt he received no clarity on the issue from the appeal proceedings.
“Let’s start from the beginning. I am not a victim here, I am not a martyr in any way. I appreciate the overwhelming support that’s coming in but the rules are the rules and if I broke the rules then I should be punished,” said Sonnen. “I believe in commissions and I believe in regulations. It’s not only good for the fighters it’s good for the industry. The UFC will not go to a municipality that does not have a governing body. I am in support of that.
“They did not abuse me or mistreat me and they gave me a fair shake,” he continued. “But I don’t like it because I don’t understand it – I don’t have any better understanding today on what it is they were looking for than I had yesterday or several months ago. They internally did not offer any suggestions, they themselves were a little confused on this as well.”
Sonnen’s suspension will conclude on March 2, 2011, and many are speculating heavily about his future since he was set up for an immediate rematch with the champion prior to being suspended. Apparently, plans have already been made regarding Sonnen’s return to action–but he isn’t telling what they are.
“I do know – but its a secret at this point,” he said when asked what was next for him.
Sonnen’s title fight rematch went to Vitor Belfort, who will be taking on Silva this February 5th at UFC 126. There can be a strong argument made that Sonnen deserves a crack at the winner of Belfort-Silva, but he recently called out Wanderlei Silva (with whom he has a tense past) on Twitter.
What do you think is next for Sonnen? Who would you like to see him take on in his return bout? Let us know in the comments section.