Reposted in full from WatchKalibRun - Your leader in A/E Ratio
August 7th, 2010. After months of hype, Chael Sonnen stepped into the cage and stood toe to toe with the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world Anderson Silva. Unlike most of his other UFC foes, Sonnen not only survived, but thrived against SIlva for the better part of four rounds, taking him down over and over. But in that fifth and final round, Chael succumbed to a triangle choke and lost the fight and his chance at the title. Though he was unsuccessful in his goal, many thought a new star was born and a rival for Anderson was born. So much so that Dana White decided to bypass other contenders and award Sonnen an instant rematch. However, bad news would soon fall as it was released that Sonnen had failed his post-UFC 117 drug test.
Immediately, members of the MMA "media" moved to provide alternatives to Sonnen's failed test. Some chose to focus of CSAC history as a distraction to the actual issue, some provided alternatives that could pop failed tests. However, as more and more details seeped out from CSAC Executive Director George Dodd, it seemed clear that Sonnen had failed the test. Rumors began to swirl that Sonnen was actually under Testosterone Replacement Therapy and was approved by the Commission, making this a "paperwork issue" and putting to onus back on the Athletic Commission. It was suggested by some that he was "approved" for his fight at UFC 104 against Okami (which was in California) and didn't think he needed to inform the physicians every time he fought. Several people (like myself, Bix at Cageside Seats, and Jon Luther at MMAFA) spoke to Keith Kizer (who is on the NSAC) since Chael's California fights sandwiched his fight against Nate Marquardt at UFC 109 in Nevada. Kizer stated that Chael Sonnen was not approved for any testosterone and in fact had declared nothing but carisprodol (muscle relaxer Soma) and doxycyline (an anti-acne medicine) creating several holes.
The CSAC recently released pertinent documents to the Chael Sonnen case. Many of them are scientific records of the laboratory's findings during the test, but I have picked out the pertinent documents which will be posted after the break.
The first document is simply the letter that the CSAC sent to Chael Sonnen informing him of his failed test. The second document is the first form filled out by Sonnen at his pre-fight exam. On it he lists 6 Advils, 1 iron tablet, 1 multivitamin, 1 Vitamin C and 1 Aspirin. The 6th slot is marked out. The 3rd document is another pre-fight exam form that Sonnen filled out which lists his "one shot" of Testosterone. The addition of a supplemental form conforms to the statements Dodd gave at the very beginning of the news in which he stated Sonnen filled out the original form and then mentioned almost in passing he was taking "something" (which turned out to be testosterone) and the physician rushed to get it documented.
Now we get into the science of the issue. You might want to look at my Look at Steroid Testing Procedure as a supplemental.
The above document states that Chael Sonnen's T/E ratio was 16.9:1. That is the ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone in the body. Epi is essentially the "yin" to testosterone's "yang". In the average male, the T/E ratio is 1:1 as both are equally produced. Testing bodies allow for a variance of up to a 4:1 ratio due to a variety of natural factors causing elevated testosterone levels. This means that Chael Sonnen was 17 times the normal male level and 4 times the allowed maximum for an athlete. Just to put this in relevance, when Manny Ramirez failed his drug test, his T:E level was below 10. The high T/E ratio is the first indicator of PED usage, but it is not 100% conclusive.
The above document shows the findings based on the IRMS testing done. I'll defer to myself to explain the CIR testing procedure.
Now that we know about the ratio and what epitestosterone and testosterone are we can move on to the Carbon Isotope Ratio test which is the 2nd test that is done once an abnormally high T/E ratio is found. The CIR test inspects the make-up of the atoms in the testosterone in the urine and is able to determine whether or not that testosterone is synthetic or natural. Now you're probably wondering how this works. When testosterone is made synthetically, it usually comes from a source (say a soy plant) and then processed using some chemical magic. The difference is that the soy plant testosterone will have a different CIR than natural testosterone.
The ratio compared in the CIR test is Carbon 12 atoms to Carbon 13 atoms. If you remember from the Periodic table, Carbon has an atomic weight of 12. Also from those days of high school chemistry, you remember that Carbon is the skeleton for most compounds.In the body, sometimes carbon atoms have an extra neutron (atomic weight of 1) pushing the total atomic weight of the carbon atom to 13. The ratio of carbon 13 atoms is going to be less in synthetic testosterone because humans get extra carbon 13 atoms based on the different plants and food we eat as opposed to the synthetic testosterone which is based on one sole type of source plant.
In order to perform the test, the lab has to isolate the free testosterone and all the metabolites (by-products left from the breaking down of testosterone) in the urine sample. This new substance is placed in an Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer (IRMS) which is used to determine the amount of carbon 12 and carbon 13 isotopes. If the ratio is outside the normal human range, then it is believed that the high T/E ratio is due to synthetic testosterone.
Chael's isotope ratio was outside the normal human range. The CSAC case is thorough and yet simple, Chael Sonnen tested outside of the allowable range for testosterone, TRT or no-TRT. If Sonnen was on TRT, he did not undergo the proper procedure. Looking at it logically, on the documents, Sonnen indicated he took a shot of testosterone the day before. If you're a fighter, knowing you had to take a drug test, why would take a shot of Testosterone the day before? That makes no sense. I'm not going to speculate (I have my theories), but even if everything is on the up-and-up, that makes no sense. That's just one of many holes that will hopefully be answered by Sonnen at tomorrow's CSAC hearing.
Edit: For those wondering why he was allowed to fight even after admitting use of testosterone, George Dodd answered that when speaking to MMAFA.
"According to rule 303C, even self-admitting doesn't allow us to stop a fight. A laboratory has to confirm it with a toxicology report. Even if we were to do a test for abuse ring-side for cocaine, marijuana, etc., we can't stop it. It has to be verified with blood work."
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