On August 7, 2010, Chael Sonnen put on the performance of his life. He did something no one in the UFC had ever done before — he dominated Anderson Silva for four straight rounds. According to the CSAC though, he didn’t do it without a little help.
According to California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer George Dodd, Chael Sonnen has been notified that he failed post-fight drug screening following his loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 117, which was held Aug. 7 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.
“[Sonnen] received his notice yesterday,” Dodd told Sherdog.com shortly after the Shane Mosley-Sergio Mora boxing match ended Saturday night in Los Angeles.
In a conversation the day before, Dodd declined to comment on the situation, other than answering that all fighters from UFC 117 had passed drugs-of-abuse scans, but that the commission was still waiting on performance-enhancing drug screens from the event.
Dodd did not state which banned substance was red-flagged, but with a clean drugs-of-abuse scan it is clear the positive test was for a performance-enhancing substance.
Assuming Sherdog’s report is accurate, this in all likelihood means we won’t be seeing Silva-Sonnen 2 early next year. If history is any indication, Sonnen will be forced to serve a 6-12 month suspension for the positive drug test, making the rematch impossible until sometime next summer at the earliest. Of course, there’s also the question of what the UFC will do with Sonnen when he’s cleared to fight again. Will they pretend like nothing happened and throw him right back in a title fight like they did with Sean Sherk, or will they drop him back down in the division and make him work his way back up?
Another question is how Sonnen will respond to the news. Allow me to refresh your memory with his controversial statements about Lance Armstrong.
“When you screw up, you have to own it. That stuff really gets under my skin. Take Lance Armstrong. Lance Armstrong did a number of things and he gave himself cancer. He cheated, he did drugs, and he gave himself cancer. Well, instead of saying ‘Hey listen, I cheated and gave myself cancer, don’t be like me.’ He actually made himself the victim and then went out and profited something like $15 million dollars from this ‘Hey, poor me, let’s find a cure for cancer’ campaign instead of just coming clean and saying, ‘Look, here’s what I did, I screwed myself up, and I hope people learn from my mistakes.’ You just watch these guys and can’t help but think, God, what a fraud. You got the whole Michael Phelps being a pothead thing too. I’m just glad I’m in the business I’m in so I can get them in the cage and kick the crap out of them.”
So which will it be? Will Sonnen admit he screwed up and learn from his mistakes, or like many fighters who have tested positive in California, will he paint himself as the “victim” of a dirty supplement, poor testing protocols or as rumored, false-positive inducing flu medication? Or better yet, will he just claim a Hispanic impersonator took the drugs and failed the test?
Image via Sherdog
Update: Kevin Iole gets Dana White’s first comments on the story… sort of. Instead of specifically addressing the Sonnen situation, he defends why the UFC doesn’t take any additional action against steroid offenders.
White, who said he does not know the particulars of Sonnen’s situation, was exasperated on Sunday. He wants to eradicate steroids from the sport, but is realistic enough to know how difficult it is and is compassionate enough that he doesn’t want to bury someone further.
“What else do I do?” White said. “We’ve spent millions of dollars – literally, millions of dollars – to try to get this thing regulated so they can be tested by the government. Do you know how much it costs us to put on that fighter seminar every year? Let me tell you, we’re bringing guys in from all over the world. We have guys from England, Germany, Croatia, Australia, Korea. We have 350 guys under contract and they’re coming from all over the world. It costs us a (expletive) ton, but we do it because it’s important.
“When one of them fails a test, the government is going to fine them and suspend them and tell them they can’t make a living for a year. So should I come in after they’ve already lost the ability to make a living for a year and been fined all this money and, in the worst economic disaster in the history of the world, fine them another huge amount and take away their ability to make a living even longer?
“These are guys with homes and families and personal lives and bills and debts and obligations, just like me and you,” White said. “After they lost all this money already, money that, A, they’ve probably already spent and B, which they owe taxes, do I fine them another huge amount? What else do you do to a human being?”
On another note, Jeremy Botter lists all the over-the-counter drugs that are known false-positives in drug tests. It appears some believe there is a chance Sonnen took one of these meds to combat the flu he had in the days leading up to the fight and that’s what triggered the positive test.
Update 2: Lance Pugmire of The LA Times spoke to CSAC head George Dodd today, and it appears there’s a slight correction to make regarding the timing of the test. Pugmire’s report states that Sonnen failed a pre-fight drug test, not a post-fight drug test as Sherdog initially reported. The UCLA Olympic drug-testing lab processed the test. Pugmire also noted that Sonnen tested positive for a “natural steroid.”
Dodd added that Sonnen will have 30 days to appeal the one-year suspension and $2,500 fine, however I can’t recall one individual in recent years that successfully appealed a positive drug test in California. Many have tried, such as Sean Sherk and James Toney, but at the most the commission reduced their suspensions by six months. Perhaps Sonnen will be the first, but history is not on his side.