The Nevada State Athletic Commission today handed down a two-year suspension and other punishments to now-retired UFC fighter Chael Sonnen following a pair of failed UFC 175 drug tests.
At a hearing today in Las Vegas, Sonnen (28-14-1 MMA, 7-6 UFC) admitted his guilt and said he agreed with the commission’s punishment, which also includes paying the cost and analysis of the drug tests that ensnared him, agreeing not to fight in any other jurisdiction for his two-year term, and acting as an educator to both the commission and fellow fighters on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs.
The commission voted unanimously after a short deliberation on Sonnen’s case.
NSAC commissioner Anthony A. Marnell III, a former minor league baseball player, took a hard line on the issue, suggesting the fighter should receive a lifetime ban in the state. However, commissioners Raymond “Skip” Avansino suggested a shorter term and countered that Sonnen should be used as a resource for stamping out future PED use.
“Today is the day for him to take responsibility for cheating,” NSAC chair Francisco Aguilar said. “It’s not a time to hide behind false excuses. I think a great penalty is warranted here for the sake of a clean sport.”
Sonnen was flagged for a total of five PEDs prior to a scheduled fight with Vitor Belfort at the July 5 pay-per-view event: anastrozole, clomifene, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), human growth hormone (HGH) and recombinant human erythropoietin. The first failed test prompted the UFC to pull him from the fight, after which he publicly retired from the sport on June 11. The second positive test, which revealed the presence of noted PEDs HGH and EPO, triggered the termination of his relationship with the UFC and FOX, where he served as a host of FOX Sports 1's “UFC Tonight.”
Nevada Deputy Attorney General Christopher Eccles represented the NSAC today in its amended complaint against Sonnen. The commission also heard from NSAC medical consultant Dr. Timothy Trainor and anti-doping expert Dr. Daniel Eichner before rendering their decision.
Sonnen’s legal rep and co-manger, Jeff Myer, restated a response to the commission’s complaint by saying the fighter did not dispute any of the findings against him. He again asked the commission to consider Sonnen’s cooperation during the drug tests and subsequent fallout.
While testifying before the commission, a grave Sonnen said, “I don’t want to say anything that comes off as an excuse (for the positive tests), because I’m guilty. I’m ashamed.”
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