In Defense of Chael Sonnen


The news of Chael Sonnen’s failed drug test spread like a California wildfire throughout the MMA community this past weekend. Like any industry that loves a juicy story, a great number of mixed martial arts fans and media alike couldn’t help but do what UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva couldn’t…hit Sonnen repeatedly with big shot after big shot, early and often. The irony of the very fighter who railed against Lance Armstrong for PED’s on a recent Pro MMA Radio appearance failing a pre-fight drug test was simply too easy for many to pass up.

As the story unfolded, California State Athletic Commission Executive Director George Dodd disclosed that Sonnen failed for having a “testosterone to estrogen level that is well above normal”, although the actual banned substance has not been identified. Most shockingly to me, however, was Dodd’s revelation that Sonnen told him one day before the fight that he was taking something that might provide a positive test result. Huh? Even if Sonnen were mainlining enough steroids to kill a horse, why disclose that to the CSAC on the eve of the biggest fight of his life?

I reached out to both Chael and his representatives several times since the news of his drug test broke and received the following statement:

“Received your voice mail requesting an interview with Chael. Unfortunately, we must decline. It is our policy not to comment on pending actions by the Athletic Commission. Chael is consulting with his legal advisors and physicians and will have a statement in the near future. Chael will file an appeal with the CSAC and looks forward to working with the Commission to resolve this matter.”

Those who question the normally verbose Sonnen’s silence or want to see it as some implicit admission of guilt have probably never had a serious charge levied against them. Unless he completely disregards the screams of his attorneys, don’t expect him to have much to say in any venue until CSAC board members are sitting in the room and listening.

So, again, why would Sonnen make that damning admission 27 hours before stepping in the cage against Anderson Silva for the belt? I just can’t believe that he could be that stupid. And let’s face it, that would be all-time stupid. As the person who did that infamous Armstrong interview with Chael, I’ve had the opportunity to interact him numerous times. He’s a highly intelligent, articulate fighter who can be outrageous at times and may be the best mixed martial artist we’ve ever seen at promoting and building interest in a fight. Sorry, I just don’t buy that Chael is that dumb, clinically insane or has a deep seeded desire to commit career suicide.

That only leaves one answer for me. He had no choice but to disclose it and he didn’t think he was admitting any wrongdoing when he did so. By process of elimination, the only thing that makes sense to me is that Chael has a medical condition and he knew he was bound to disclose whatever medication that had been legitimately prescribed to him to treat that condition because it had the potential to lead to a positive test result. If Sonnen were prescribed testosterone, a quick Google search reveals a multitude of legitimate reasons having nothing to do with performance enhancement ranging from testosterone deficiency to more serious and potentially life threatening diseases involving major organs and muscle wasting.

When I spoke to Dodd by telephone on Tuesday he informed me that California pre-fight medicals are conducted right before the weigh ins on the day before the event. In the case of UFC 117, Chael’s medicals took place at approximately 3:30 PM on August 6th, which would include standard health checks (blood pressure, etc.) and filling out a form that asks for a list of any medication that the fighter is taking. Putting aside the mental clarity of a fighter in the final hour of a massive weight cut, Dodd made it clear that “it is incumbent on the fighter to make the commission aware that you are taking an enhancing drug prior to taking the test as well as the medical reasons for using it.” According to Dodd, Chael verbally informed him of the potential for failing the test at 6:05 PM, ten minutes prior to the drug test being conducted, instead of during the prefight medicals. When asked if he had spoken to the doctor who examined Sonnen at the event to see if the fighter had disclosed the potential failure to that physician he simply responded, “no”. Dodd also stated that Chael did not offer a medical reason explaining why he was taking a banned substance.

Let’s also take a closer look at the statement issued by Sonnen’s representatives. “Chael is consulting with his lawyers and physicians…”. Not sure I’ve ever seen that one before but I’m quite sure that most people consult with their physicians about medical issues. If it said medical experts, I’d buy that they were assessing physiological reasons for the failure but that simply isn’t what those carefully scripted words say.

Lastly, the CSAC’s refusal to identify the drug that Sonnen allegedly failed for leads me to believe that we won’t be hearing about specific or exotic steroids as we did when Phil Baroni failed in California for veterinary drugs Boldenone and Stanozolol or Sean Sherk’s publicized, disputed failure for Nandrolone. It’s more likely to play out similar to when ex-footballer Johnnie Morton got his clock cleaned in 2007 at the Dynamite! USA event and then failed with a high T/E ratio for unspecified steroids. And, again, without knowing the numeric elevated level we should all pump the brakes a bit. According to Healthtree.com and numerous online sources, a normal testosterone/estrogen ratio is 50:1 in healthy males. If Sonnen’s ratio comes back at 60:1 that’s a whole different story than if he came in at 200:1. If he were under a doctor’s care and using a prescribed drug as directed, then that doctor will have to explain why he was prescribed a dosage of the drug that would trigger a high result or why Sonnen wasn’t blood tested more frequently to insure that his levels didn’t get out of whack. 

Call me crazy, but when an intelligent fighter like Sonnen makes a career-threatening disclosure on the eve of the biggest fight of his life there has to be a better reason than a suddenly non-existent I.Q. A legitimate medical condition being treated with a medication that could impact a test makes all the sense in the world while providing perspective as to why a press release mentions consulting with one’s physician. If Chael neglected to inform the commission in writing of any banned substance usage but did so verbally, he didn’t handle the situation optimally but it would seem that heis actions are in line with the spirit of what was required of him. The CSAC shortened both Baroni and Sherk’s suspensions from one-year to six months…Baroni because he tested clean after the fact and Sherk because of alleged testing irregularities. If facts come to light that Chael was legally taking a medication for legitimate medical reasons and that his failure was more one of procedure, not substance, a successful appeal or significant shortening of the suspension is not out of the realm of possibility. And if that happens, neither is the rematch with Anderson Silva that fans were clamoring for nor the possibility that Chael’s inbox will be flooded with apology emails from all those who wanted to prematurely lock up his career and throw away the key.




PMR 108 with Chael Sonnen is Ready NOW!


The On Demand Replay of Pro MMA Radio’s interview with the UFC’s number one contender in the middleweight division, Chael Sonnen, is ready now and available for our listeners 24/7. Sonnen faces UFC Middleweight Champion and top pound for pound fighter Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 117 this Saturday, August 7th at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California and live on Pay Per View.

In The Opening Round, ESPN’s Jon Anik joined Pep to recap UFC on Versus 2 and preview UFC 117.

 


Chael Sonnen Headlines Pro MMA Radio Monday, August 2nd!


Number one Middleweight Contender Chael Sonnen returns to Pro MMA Radio just days before his highly anticipated title fight at UFC 117 against division kingpin Anderson Silva. Sonnen has established himself as perhaps the fighter best able to promote a fight in the build up to the event which takes place on August 7th at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California and live on Pay Per View. Mark this one on your calendar as Chael is never short on things to say.  

In The Opening Round we’ll have a full preview of UFC 117 and a recap of UFC on Versus 2.



PMR 84 with Chael Sonnen & UFC 109 Recap is Ready Now!


The On-Demand Replay of Pro MMA Radio’s interview with UFC Middleweight contender Chael Sonnen is ready now and available for our listeners 24/7. Chael had a career-defining performance when he beat heavily favored Nate Marquardt at UFC 109 to earn a title shot against the winner of Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort.

In The Opening RoundYahoo’s Cagewriter, Steve Cofield came in to recap UFC 109 with Pep.

 

 



Chael Sonnen Added to Tonight’s Pro MMA Radio!


The story of UFC 109, now top UFC Middleweight contender Chael Sonnen will appear on tongiht’s Pro MMA Radio to talk about his dominant performance over superstar Nate Marquardt that earned him a title shot. The multi-dimensional fighter will also discuss his bid to become Oregon’s next State Representative. To learn more about Chael’s political future, visit VoteSonnen.com. To learn more about his future in the Octagon, check out tonight’s show!  



PMR 83 with Chael Sonnen is Ready NOW!


The On-Demand Replay of Pro MMA Radio’s interview with UFC Middleweight contender Chael Sonnen is ready now and available for our listeners 24/7. Chael takes on Nate Marquardt this Saturday at UFC 109 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada and live on Pay Per View.

In The Opening RoundFIGHT! Magazine’s Donovan Craig came in to recap Strikeforce: Miami and preview UFC 109 with Pep.

 

 



UFC Middleweight Contender Chael Sonnen Headlines Pro MMA Radio Monday, February 1st!


Uncrowned WEC Middleweight Champion Chael Sonnen returns to Pro MMA Radio as he prepares for the biggest test of his UFC career when he takes on top contender Nate Marquardt at UFC 109 in a fight that could decide the next challenger for the title. Chael comes into the fight having beaten the highly regarded Dan Miller and former top contender Yushin Okami. UFC 109 takes place on February 6th at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada and live on Pay Per View.

In the Opening Round, we’ll have a full preview of UFC 109 as well as a recap of Strikeforce: Miami and the MMA debut of former NFL superstar Herschel Walker with FIGHT! Magazine Editor-in-Chief Donovan Craig.



PMR 47 – Soares, Sozinski, Sonnen


The On Demand Replay of Pro MMA’s interviews with Ed Soares, Krzysztoff Sozinski and Chael Sonnen are available now and ready for our listeners.

Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports joined Pep in the Opening Round to talk about Dana White’s reactions to the E-60 piece and to break down the main card for this weekend’s UFC 98 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena here in Las Vegas.

 


Ed Soares, Krzysztof Soszynski & Chael Sonnen Headline Pro MMA Radio Monday, May 18th!


It’s our last show before UFC 98 and we’ve got a full slate. First, Ed Soares will be back on Pro MMA to give us the lowdown on his star-studded roster of fighters…UFC Middeleweight Champ Anderson Silva, Former UFC and Pride Champ Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Former WEC Champ Paulo Filho and, of course, the challenger for Rashad Evans’ UFC Light Heavyweight Title at UFC 98, Lyoto Machida. Make sure to check out Ed’s Sinister Brand clothing.

Next up we’ll have two fighters from the card, Krzysztof “The Polish Experiment” Soszynski and Chael Sonnen, as they prepare to fight Andre Gusmao and Dan Miller respectively. Both fighters come into the event on short notice, Krzysztof just having beaten Brian Stann at UFC 97 and Chael coming off a loss to undefeated Demain Maia.   



PMR 25 – Sonnen, WEC 37, Fight for the Troops


Percy Crawford of Fighthype.com joined Pep in the Opening Round to discuss WEC 37 and break down the UFC Fight for the Troops this Wednesday as well as the TUF Finale coming up this Saturday. Pep also gave the address to send an injured soldier a holiday card and promised to post the address here:

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20307-5001

In the Toe to Toe segment, Chael Sonnen came in and talked about the mental game in MMA, why he’s not afraid to fight Anderson Silva and how many hours top fighters really train.

 


Chael Sonnen Headlines Pro MMA Radio 25 Monday, December 8th!


Uncrowned WEC Middleweight Champ Chael Sonnen returns to finish what we started a few weeks when he came in for part one of his interview on Pro MMA Radio. Chael will talk Anderson Silva, the realities of MMA training at the highest level and more.

In the Opening Round, we’ll talk WEC 37 and preview the two upcoming UFC cards this week, Wednesday’s Fight for the Troops and Saturday’s TUF 8 Finale.



PMR 22 – Chael Sonnen, Kim Couture, UFC 91


PMR’s post UFC 91 show is ready and On Demand for our listeners!

Kim Couture came in and talked about Randy’s fight with Brock Lesnar as well as his future with the UFC. Kim also revealed some interesting stuff about the issues with former Affliction head Todd Beard. Kim also talked about her upcoming fight this weekend at Strikeforce: Destruction, plans for the Couture’s MMA promotion in ’09 and the success of Xtreme Couture gyms and a new lifestyle website the couple just launched.

Uncrowned WEC Middleweight Champ Chael Sonnen came in and talked about the real behind the scenes goings on with his fight with Paulo Filho, whether he received the belt and his impressions of the Lesnar/Couture fight. Chael will be back in the next few weeks so we can get into his future with the UFC and his pursuit of the middleweight title. Chael runs Full Contact Fighting Federation, the largest amateur MMA promotion in the country.

 


Chael Sonnen and Kim Couture Headline Pro MMA Radio 22, Monday, November 17th!


In the Opening Round, Pep will break down UFC 91, the biggest event in UFC history. Then we’ll have two special Toe to Toe segments with MMA fighter, promoter and wife of ”The Natural”, Kim Couture and uncrowned WEC Middleweight Champ, Chael Sonnen.

Kim will discuss her husband’s historical fight with Brock Lesnar, her upcoming fight at Strikeforce this weekend and the state of women’s MMA.

When Chael steps in, we’ll talk about his fight with Paulo Filho, whether he’s received the belt, his tenure in the WEC and his future with the UFC.