Chael Sonnen managed to get his one year suspension cut in half yesterday on a 3-1 vote of the California State Athletic Commission. He'll be eligible to fight again as soon as March 2.
Loretta Hunt details Sonnen's defense:
On Thursday, Sonnen and his legal team revealed that the fighter had been diagnosed with hypogonadism, a condition that impedes testosterone production in males, and was instructed to begin doctor-supervised replacement therapy beginning in 2008.
Sonnen's physician, Dr. Mark Czarnecki, testified that'd he prescribed twice-weekly, self-injected testosterone therapy to address the fighter's "extreme fatigue, exhaustion, and mental fogging" among other symptoms. Dr. Czarnecki stated that the therapy was mandatory for Sonnen and that he would not approve the fighter to compete without it.
"Chael's body would not tolerate the extreme stress associated with such a sport [without the treatment]," explained Dr. Czarnecki.
Upon request, the physician provided detailed multiple documents recording Sonnen's treatment and progress since 2008.
The hearing was streamed live on the Internet and not everyone was impressed at seeing government in action. Michael David Smith pulled no punches:
For most of a bumbling, badly run meeting before the California State Athletic Commission, Chael Sonnen looked like he was toast. Yes, he had brought a couple of highly regarded lawyers with him, and yes, he had a doctor who testified that he had prescribed Sonnen with testosterone to deal with hypogonadism. But rules are rules, and the members of the Commission, despite seeming at times like they didn't know what their own rules were, appeared to be in general agreement that Sonnen had violated their rules by failing to properly disclose he was taking testosterone.
Call it a split decision victory for Sonnen, a Fight of the Night-quality performance by his lawyers, and a big loss for the California State Athletic Commission -- and for everyone who wants the rules on performance-enhancing drugs to be upheld fairly and uniformly.
Zach Arnold has an even more cynical take:
The legal defense today by Chael Sonnen and his lawyer, Howard Jacobs, was remarkable. They claimed that Mr. Sonnen suffered from hypogonadism (lack of testosterone) and that due to the Americans with Disabilities Act that Sonnen should continue to fight. Somehow, I don't think when the ADA legislation was passed that a UFC fighter was in the minds of the bill's creators.
Sonnen stated that Nevada State Athletic Commission boss Keith Kizer told him that he didn't need to disclose the fact that he's using TRT. (Kizer denied this claim.)
In the end, Sonnen proved what James Toney proved - which is that if you put up any sort of confident fight against the CSAC appeals board, you have a good chance of getting a suspension reduced.
Bix at Cage Side Seats contacted Kizer:
While Chael Sonnen got his suspension cut in half at his hearing with the California State Athletic Commission this afternoon, he may have gotten himself in more trouble thanks to a statement about a conversation he claimed to have had with Keith Kizer, the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Sonnen claimed that he had spoken to Kizer about his use of testosterone as part of hormone replacement therapy, had the use approved by Kizer, and was told by Kizer that he didn't need to mention it again. At the very least, Kizer had already told me that Sonnen had never requested a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone when it was revealed that Sonnen's claim would be based around testosterone replacement therapy. With Sonnen's claim on the record involving a conversation with Kizer, I got in touch with him again to get his thoughts on what Sonnen said today.
He immediately noted that "I have never talked to Chael Sonnen in my life," regardless of the subject. With regards to Sonnen's licensing in Nevada when the California suspension expires, he added that it would have to wait until after the California suspension expires, and then "if Mr. Sonnen wants to get a license here in Nevada, it's probably best if he appears before our commission as opposed to me giving him one administratively." As far as the comments during the hearing could be an issue: "Possibly. I mean anything's a possible issue, but yeah, it's probably best that he appears before the commission and explains what he meant by that. I'm very confused."
It will be very interesting to see if the NSAC follows up on Kizer's threats. They are not known for bucking the UFC and a Sonnen vs Anderson Silva rematch will be a very lucrative fight for the promotion and what ever state is lucky enough to host it.