Following Chael Sonnen's second failed drug test within a matter of weeks, the UFC has officially removed the former middleweight and light heavyweight contender from its Fox Sports broadcast team. The UFC confirmed the news with a statement on its website Monday night:
The UFC and FOX Sports organizations announced today the termination of their respective broadcasting services agreements with analyst Chael Sonnen. This decision comes in light of Sonnen failing a second test conducted by the Nevada Athletic Commission for banned substances in June. Sonnen was previously under temporary suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission for failing an initial test conducted in May.
The news was first broken on Twitter by Bleacher Report's own Jeremy Botter:
Multiple sources indicate to me that Chael Sonnen will not be a part of Fox broadcasts going forward, at least for a while.— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) July 1, 2014
Sonnen has been a staple of the UFC's broadcast team over the past two years, regularly appearing behind the analyst desk during Fight Night and UFC on Fox events. He has also been a steady presence on the UFC's weekly news show, UFC Tonight, on Fox Sports 1.
MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani broke the news earlier this week that Sonnen had failed a June 5 drug test, getting popped for four banned substances—most notably, erythropoietin (EPO) and human growth hormone (HGH). The failed test came shortly after another incident in which Sonnen was flagged for anastrozole and clomiphene.
While some fans and media members came to Sonnen's defense following the first failed test due to the Nevada State Athletic Commission's sudden ban on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), EPO and HGH are clear-cut performance-enhancing drugs, often associated with disgraced athletes such as Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong.
The development is sudden but not surprising. While Sonnen is one of the most popular fighters in mixed martial arts, he has failed three drug tests to date. With the UFC's ongoing PED crisis, it was forced to act or invite a storm of negative publicity.
In spite of all of this, Sonnen remains scheduled to face high-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu player Andre Galvao in a grappling match later this year at Metamoris 4. What the future holds for Sonnen is unclear, but, at least for now, he seems committed to remaining in combat sports.
Stick with Bleacher Report for more details as they become available.