The California State Athletic Commission board meeting is ongoing right now. You can watch the meeting on Ustream. Chael Sonnen and Josh Barnett were scheduled to appear before lunch, but their cases have been pushed back until 4 p.m. ET. Sonnen is appealing a positive test for testosterone that occurred after his UFC 117 title fight with Anderson Silva. Barnett is seeking reinstatement of his license after failing a drug test prior to his fight with Fedor Emelianenko at the failed "Affliction: Trilogy" show.
There has been no confirmation that Sonnen and Barnett have arrived at the hearings. UFC VP of Regulation Marc Ratner is in attendance.
[UPDATE] The California State Athletic Commission reduced Chael Sonnen's suspension by six months and maintained a fine of $2,500. A motion to uphold the year-long suspension failed by a vote of 2-2.
The two-hour long hearing was largely a circus. Sonnen's doctor - wearing a black t-shirt, chewing gum, and avoiding eye contact with anyone in the room - was brought in to explain his diagnosis of hypogonadism and subsequent prescription of testosterone injections. He was also unable to provide documentation of a fax sent to the athletic commission regarding Sonnen's testosterone uses, claiming that it wasn't kept in Sonnen's medical folder.
Sonnen claimed that he provided all documentation request of him by the California State Athletic Commission. He explained that he felt uncomfortable discussing his condition in front of other fights as it would bring back thoughts to his childhood of being teased for not going through puberty.
The commission reduced the suspension even though three of the four commission members seemed to agree that Sonnen broke the commission's rules regarding banned substances.
Earlier in the hearing, Josh Barnett received a continuance after feeling "ambushed" by the assistant attorney general who had"put together a case against" him. Barnett was unaware that he should have brought counsel. There was also some debate between the commission members whether Barnett was applying for a new license or seeking reinstatement of his old license. Reinstatement of a license would require Barnett to meet some standard of rehabilitation, which the commission would not clarify.
BloodyElbow.com live blog of the proceedings after the break.
[2:37 p.m.] Chael Sonnen has been spotted at the hearing.
[3:14 p.m.] The commission has adjourned for lunch. Sonnen and Barnett are scheduled when they return at 4:15 p.m.
[4:15 p.m.] The commission is back in session, on time, despite being a government entity.
[4:20 p.m.] Commission calls Josh Barnett up on the docket. Commission explains he was suspended for one year for steroid use, the suspension is over, and Barnett is attempting to reinstate his license.
[4:24 p.m.] Barnett tells the story regarding the drug test he took a month prior to the Affliction show in order to reapply for his California license. Goes on to talk about the lawyers he hired and why he missed prior hearings.
[4:27 p.m.] Commission member is confused and asks Barnett if he is denying the use of anabolic steroids. Barnett confirms his denial. Someone to Barnett's left jumps in and asks about the procedure with regards to testimony, witnesses, etc. Some member of the commission admits to not knowing the procedure. Barnett admits to not having counsel with him. This is now officially a mess. Commission debating the point of Barnett's presence.
[4:31 p.m.] Commission debating whether this is a new application of a license or reinstatement of an old license. Apparently, some record of rehabilitation is needed for reinstatement. Commission member is suggesting the commission give Barnett the option to come back with counsel. The commission member explains to Barnett that he is liable to answer "probing" questions if he goes through with license reinstatement today. Barnett denies prior knowledge of the procedures, and requests he be allowed to return with counsel.
[4:36 p.m.] Barnett officially requests a continuance. The commission lets Barnett know that they take these procedures seriously. It looks like we aren't going to get a resolution about Barnett today. Fantastic start to the hearing. Barnett asks about the definition of "rehabilitation" with regards to the commission. A member of the commission tells him he'll need to talk to his counsel, and they are not able to help him. The commission grants the continuance, and Barnett is on his way. The commission calls Chael Sonnen.
[4:40 p.m.] The California attorney begins his opening statement. A member of the commission interrupts in order to clarify the time allotment. Looks like we're getting a half hour of opening statements from each, fifteen minutes of rebuttals, and two witnesses from each side. California attorney explains that this case involves Sonnen not disclosing use of testosterone to the commission.
[4:44 p.m.] The California attorney says Sonnen had two opportunities to report his long-term usage of testosterone, and that Sonnen only disclosed his usage the day prior to the bout. He continues that a drug report confirmed the "exogenous" introduction of testosterone. The attorney requests Mr. George Dodd be sworn in.
[4:51 p.m.] The California attorney produces documents including letters from Sonnen's lawyer Howard Jacobs to George Dodd, correspondence from the UCLA drug lab to the California State Athletic Commission, and Chael Sonnen's prefight medical questionnaire.
[4:57 p.m.] George Dodd testifies that Sonnen did not report being diagnosed of hypogonadism or being prescribed testosterone injections prior to the Yushin Okami bout at UFC 104. Dodd says Sonnen told him about testosterone injections the day before UFC 117. Dodd explains that he did not have the power to stop the bout without a positive drug test. Dodd says there is precedence for allowing medical/therapeutic use provided that the athlete tests within acceptable limits. The California attorney is through questioning George Dodd.
[4:59 p.m.] Attorney cross-examines Dodd. Clarifies prior statements. Dodd admits that he didn't inform Sonnen of the repercussions of testosterone consumption and states that he was not liable to do so.
[5:05 p.m.] Doctor Gary Furness is called. Furness details his experience with the California commission as a ringside physician. A commission member yawns. Furness explains that Sonnen disclosed use of other substances (not specified if they were banned substances). Furness denies that Sonnen disclosed being diagnosed with hypogonadism. Another commission member yawns.
[5:13 p.m.] Furness says he was not aware of Sonnen's use of testosterone until the day of the event. Sonnen's attorney cross-examines Mr. Furness. Furness says seeing the form in which Sonnen admitted to testosterone use would not have been useful to him. Sonnen's attorney forget the question he just asked. The Sonnen attorney asks questions about UFC-employed Dr. Jeff Davidson, badges, and credentials.
[5:34 p.m.] Sonnen's attorney requests a bunch of documents be used as evidence. Commission admonishes the attorneys for not using page numbers. Sonnen's attorney says Sonnen is a man of character and integrity. Chael Sonnen has been diagnosed with hypogonadism, meaning his testosterone levels are abnormally low. Sonnen's laywers claim there's been on test, including the test by the CSAC at UFC 117, that shows an abnormal level of testosterone. California attorney interrupts Sonnen's lawyer's opening statements with objections of hearsay. Commission urges Sonnen's lawyer to make careful use of his time. Sonnen's lawyer claims Sonnen wasn't comfortable discussing his diagnosis in a room full of fighters. The commission interrupts to agree with the California attorney that Sonnen's lawyer is offering testimony in lieu of opening arguments. Sonnen's lawyer is warned he has 20 minutes of total time left, and shows no urgency to expedite his statements. Sonnen's lawyer says the commission cannot suspend Sonnen under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
[5:41 p.m.] Chael Sonnen is sworn in. Sonnen claims he filed all the paperwork that was asked of him, and that his Doctor sent the letter explaining his use of testosterone to the commission. Sonnen explains that his return to California for the Silva fight at UFC 117 involved a much more "sophisticated" process than his first fight in California. Sonnen has no problem discussing his use of testosterone, but does not want to "relive his youth" when he did not go through puberty. Sonnen explains that the drug testing procedure changed between his two fights, specifically that USADA was involved in submitting his sample at UFC 117. Sonnen jokes that he could not have told anyone else about his use of testosterone short of grabbing the microphone from Joe Rogan and announcing it to the world.
[5:46 p.m.] The California attorney is now cross-examining Sonnen. Sonnen says that there is no substance in 21st century medicine that doesn't enhance an athlete. Sonnen is speaking too closely to the microphone. The commission asks Sonnen to speak "a little more respectfully." Sonnen says Matt Lindland was given the OK from the commission for his use of testosterone. Sonnen says that no one has told him that testosterone is a steroid or a frowned-upon substance.
[6:00 p.m.] California attorney asks if Sonnen was told by his doctor if any other treatment was available. Sonnen says no, outside of other methods of increasing his testosterone (e.g. a cream). California attorney is done with their cross-examination. Doctor Zarnekee (I'm not sure if this is the correct spelling) is called by the Sonnen team. Zarnekee is Chael Sonnen's doctor in Oregon. Zarnekee testifies to documents outlining tests that show Sonnen's decrease in production of testosterone. Zarnekee is asked to describe his medical credentials. Zarnekee explains the reason for testing Sonnen for testosterone deficiency. Zarnekee's testimony is highly underwhelming. He's essentially repeating material that Sonnen already said. Zarnekee claims that Sonnen's body would not be willing to handle the rigors of fighting without testosterone therapy.
[6:15 p.m.] The California attorney is now cross-examining Doctor Zarnekee. Zarnekee refuses to make eye contact with just about everyone in the room. Zarnekee "looked through his charts" and doesn't have a confirmation for the letter that was faxed to the California commission. Zarnekee claims the confirmation would be held by his office manager. Zarnekee doesn't remember who requested the letter from him. I should note that Zarnekee is wearing a black t-shirt. The California attorney asks if there are drugs that suppress the levels of testosterone. Zarnekee doesn't have an answer. Zarnekee reminds me of Jeff Daniels' character in Dumb and Dumber, if Harry Dunne had become a licensed physician. Sonnen's lawyer provides additional documents of tests that were not submitted earlier. The California attorney is through with his cross-examination.
[6:27 p.m.] Commission: "You're not planning any rebuttal witness are you? No? Good." The attorneys are now going to give their rebuttal statements. The California attorney reinforces the idea that this case is not about the Americans with Disabilities Act, but is about the use of performance-enhancing drugs. He points out that Sonnen's claim that he did not understand that testosterone is a performance-enhancing substance is ludicrous. Sonnen's lawyer gives their rebuttal. He claims there's been no evidence contrary that Sonnen's use of testosterone is valid and necessary. Sonnen's lawyer says Sonnen wasn't trying to hide his use as evidenced by his remarks to Dodd prior to the bout. Sonnen's lawyer now claims that there's no proof that Sonnen's testosterone use enhanced his performance. Sonnen's lawyer now attacking the commission for not handling the case better. Sonnen's lawyer rests.
[6:53 p.m.] Commission is asking Sonnen clarification questions. Commission asks Sonnen why he believed Dr. Davidson had any sort of authority within the state of California. Sonnen explains Davidson's constant presence during the prefight medicals and ringside on fight night led him to believe he was "welcomed" by the California commission. This member of the commission questioning Sonnen seems to be the only person with any understanding of the situation and the controversial nature of hormone therapy. The commission apparently has no idea what Sonnen's testosterone levels were. Commission explains that intent isn't the issue.
[ p.m.] It's starting to sound like the commission will uphold some or all of the suspension based on Sonnen's lack of proper disclosure of his testosterone use. A commission member moves to uphold the suspension. The motion is seconded. The commission is unable to figure out how to vote. Apparently the vote is 2-2, so the motion fails? Now a motion is made to reduce the suspension by 6 months and maintain the $2,500 fine. That motion passes 3-1. I have no idea why the suspension was just reduced by 6 months. And that's the end of Sonnen's hearing.