Sonnen Suspended, Silva Explains His Side of the Story at NAC Meeting

Jeremy BotterMMA Senior WriterJune 17, 2014

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Retired mixed martial artist Chael Sonnen was handed a temporary suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Tuesday, and a hearing will be held on a future date to determine his official punishment.

The commission hearing was streamed worldwide on UFC Fight Pass. Bleacher Report attended the meeting via conference call.

Sonnen failed a drug test for clomiphene and anastrozole. He was informed of the failed test results and the complaint against him on June 9. Both drugs are anti-estrogens that counteract the effects of performance-enhancing drugs like testosterone and help to start up the body's natural production of testosterone after the synthetic version is eliminated.

Sonnen used testosterone replacement therapy for years before the commission banned it earlier this year.

A commission official noted that Sonnen had not requested a therapeutic use exemption for either clomiphene or anastrozole. Sonnen and his lawyer noted that they will be filing an official response to the complaint at a later date.

Sonnen, 36, retired from mixed martial arts last week after the results of his drug test were made public. He was originally scheduled to face Wanderlei Silva at UFC 175 on July 5, but Silva was pulled from the fight when he skipped a random drug test administered by the NSAC. Silva was replaced by Vitor Belfort, but the fight was scrapped altogether when Sonnen's failed drug test results were released.

Sonnen said on UFC Tonight that he wanted to put his family first.

"I want to stay within the rules, and I don't fully understand them. I have to put my health first. I have to put my family first. If I know what I know now, and I know this is going to work and I'm going to be able to get my wife pregnant and look forward to having a family, I'm going to do the exact same thing 20 more times," Sonnen said. "So it's going to put me out of compliance 20 more times. Let's just stop with that. Let me just remove myself."

Silva also appeared before the commission on Tuesday to discuss the controversy surrounding his own pre-fight random drug screening. For Silva, Tuesday's meeting was an information-gathering meeting only. No punishment was handed out. Instead, the commission heard from Jim Gurnsey, a sample collector who noted he has collected samples for trucking companies, insurance agencies and sports organizations for years.

On May 24, Gurnsey went to Silva's home. He attempted to call Silva and Silva's wife, but both numbers were disconnected. Gurnsey said he would later discover the numbers were incorrectly written down. Gurnsey called NSAC executive director Bob Bennett, who told Gurnsey to go to Silva's door to attempt to collect a sample. Gurnsey complied, ringing the doorbell on Silva's home. A dog barked inside, but Silva did not come to the door.

He sent Bennett a text asking if he wanted him to go to Silva's gym, and Bennett noted that he did. Gurnsey arrived at the gym. He asked the receptionist at the front desk if Silva was in the gym, and they said he was. He walked in to an area where Silva was eating with a group of trainers and asked him if he was Wanderlei Silva. He explained the process and said he was there to collect a sample.

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Silva asked if he could talk to his manager, and Gurnsey told him he could. Silva walked into his office in the middle of the gym, then walked out to the front counter. After this, he walked to the back of the gym. Gurnsey waited a brief period, then followed Silva to the back. At this point, he noticed there was an exit in the back of the gym. He looked around for Silva but came to the conclusion that he'd left.

Gurnsey was eventually instructed to continue collecting samples from the rest of the fighters he needed to test.

Silva's Las Vegas-based lawyer Ross Goodman, who famously argued Nick Diaz's case against the NSAC a few years ago, said that Silva was taking diuretics to help prevent inflammation in a wrist injury he suffered earlier this year. Goodman said that Silva was afraid the diuretic would show up on the drug test.

"Mr. Silva realizes he should have submitted to the drug test," Goodman said.

The commission thanked Silva and Goodman for appearing and then noted it would parse all the information it had received and convene for a punishment hearing at a later date.

UFC stars Lyoto Machida and B.J. Penn were also granted Nevada fight licenses during Tuesday's hearing. Machida faces Chris Weidman in the main event of UFC 175, while Penn faces Frankie Edgar in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter Finale on July 6. Both events will be held in Las Vegas.