I just wasted three hours of my life watching the Chael Sonnen / CSAC trial, but to put that in perspective I spent three hours last night watching the MMA Awards and 4 hours playing Angry Birds. So it’s not like there’s very much going on in my life right now. Plus, even though the whole charade lasted several times longer than it probably should have, there were still many entertaining moments in the mix, like Josh Barnett getting ambushed!
I have no idea how the CSAC informs people as to what’s going on at these meetings, but Josh Barnett obviously thought he was just showing up for a semi-normal license renewal and was quite surprised to find out there’d be legal council arguing against him. Soooooo for the fourth time, Josh’s hearing has been pushed back. This time to February.
This started off the MMA / steroids portion of the hearing off quite poorly, as no one seemed to know if Barnett was asking for a renewal, a reinstatement, or what. As soon as RED SHIRT DRAGON LADY (the chick running the hearing) started talking about Barnett’s license application being dependent on ‘rehabilitation’, Barnett – who still maintains his innocence – said he’d need his lawyer with him. Which you’d think he or his lawyer would have known in advance, but again, who knows what the CSAC told them would happen. Lesson: Don’t rely on the CSAC to tell you anything about anything.
Now onto Chael Sonnen’s defense. I’m not going to go too deep into it because I’ll just link over to other people who were actually there, but here’s the gist of it:
Chael Sonnen has been under Testosterone Replacement Therapy since early 2008 as a result of hypergonadism. Yep, that’s something wrong with his balls where they don’t produce enough hormones, or in this case testosterone. He brought along his doctor to confirm this, and they showed via test results that even with testosterone shots, Chael was still sitting at the lower level of ‘normal’ testosterone. Keep in mind though that testosterone levels change pretty quickly … a guy shooting up advantageous amounts of testosterone on one day could read low a week later.
Here’s where things gets kinda sketchy. Sonnen’s team claimed they sent the CSAC documents related to his ‘therapy’ before his fight with Yushin Okami, but the CSAC says there’s no proof of this. Because he’d already gone through the process the first time, he didn’t think he had to re-send that info this time. He claims he freely told doctors before the Anderson Silva fight that he was on testosterone, but strangely enough it turns out that the doctor he told wasn’t a CSAC doctor but a UFC doctor. This came up quite a bit: “We told this doctor under the impression he was with the CSAC.” Whoops.
He also told CSAC head George Dodd about the testosterone right before his UFC 118 testing in the context of making sure the outside org doing the testing were aware of his issue. Dodd agrees this happened, and while he’s explained before that he didn’t have the authority to scrap the fight over this, it doesn’t explain why he never spoke further to Chael about it, which you’d think he’d do in that situation.
One important place that Sonnen didn’t include the testosterone info was on his pre-fight drug paperwork. Chael claims it was because he was in a room full of fighters “trying to peek at paperwork to see how much everyone else was getting paid” and he didn’t feel comfortable listing his malfunctioning ballsack on the documentation. This was the big kicker throughout the meeting since it was basically a failure to disclose, which is nice and clean cut.
So long story short, Sonnen definitely has a medically approved reason to take testosterone – whether it’s legit or sketchy … well, we have no idea. Sonnen claims he had informed the CSAC in the past, and claims he’s informed the NSAC in the past. The CSAC denies they’ve ever gotten anything related to this, and so does the NSAC. But regardless, the commission voted 3-1 to halve Sonnen’s suspension to 6 months and he’ll be clear to fight March 2nd. It seemed like the general feeling was the commish bought the legitimacy of Sonnen’s medical need for testosterone but were still punishing him because he fucked up the forms and didn’t go about things properly. Fair enough, I guess.
The obvious big issue coming out of this hearing is Testosterone Replacement Therapy and how the commission is capable of telling when someone really has an issue that requires it and when a fighter is just gaming the system. The CSAC had no proper procedure in place to deal with the situation, and so in this case everything boiled down to Sonnen not including the treatment on his pre-fight paperwork.
Reading this over again, Chael sounds pretty guilty. But my writeup doesn’t really capture the confusion surrounding the UFC doctor Chael thought was a CSAC doctor. From Chael’s side, he told the right people … they just turned out to be the wrong people. When you watch the CSAC in action and see how disorganized and splintered they are, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how things could have happened the way he said they did. Then again, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how Chael could be using a bogus ailment to get away with shooting up testosterone.