Its official folks: You can now take anabolic steroids in the state of California, as long as you think of a good enough excuse after the fact.
Chael Sonnen, MMA's master snake-oil salesman, saved his greatest PR coup for the California State Athletic Commission.
Asked to explain the blatant illegality of his positive steroid test vs. Anderson Silva at UFC 117, and his failure to disclose such usage, Chael went his with his tried and true fallback position for skirting public controversy: His lack of testicular fortitude.
Hypogonadism. Hypo-freakin'-gonadism. That's why Chael Sonnen was injecting testosterone into himself as close as two days before the fight.
Because secretly, all this time, over all his days as a successful collegiate wrestler and a 2 time national Greco-Roman champion and Olympic team alternate and a Mixed Martial Arts world champion with 37 professional fights, he was secretly suffering from a testosterone deficiency. Really? Really?
According to Chael's "doctor", this lack of testosterone resulted in "increased fatigue" and "increased chance of injury". Stop me if this sounds like, I dunno, something every single professional athlete suffers from in the course of training.
Can I count "not winning enough" and "needing to be more awesome" as symptoms of a medical condition now? Especially if it gets me medically allowable testosterone?
Sonnen's physician also said his debilitating illness resulted in "mental fogging." I guess that explains the last 30 seconds of the Anderson Silva fight.
Yesterday’s courtroom saga of Chael Sonnen, the increasingly bored looking CSAC, and a seemingly endless stream of dopey witnesses played like an episode of "Law and Order". Just minus the excitement, layered plot, shouting, background music and Sam Waterston.
Okay, so the only thing yesterdays farce had in common with "L&O" was the bad guy, the shiftless perp, slouched over all evil-eyed next to his crack team of smarmy lawyers.
But man, things were looking bad for Chael there for a while, weren't they?
In front of the whole MMA media, all of whom he had so skillfully played and manipulated only months earlier, his name was dragged through the dirt. His credibility was assassinated. His manhood was all but gone...literally, if you believe him.
By halfway through his hearing, I bet you couldn't have gotten better than +500 odds that he was anything but royally screwed. His witnesses were increasingly incredible: his "doctor" especially providing the coup de grace of bumbling, mumbling, time-wasting nonsense.
His medical records as submitted to the court were incomplete. His testimony failed to address the actual crime for which he stood accused. I'm sorry, Chael, but having some D.O. from Oregon show up to claim "hypogonadism" while singing a sob story about lost puberty, athletic frustration, and "feeling embarrassed in front of the guys" doesn't cut it.
You injected steroids before a prizefight and then you lied about it on your prefight medicals. Case closed, enjoy your year off.
When it came time to judge, the commissioners, so haggard and ornery throughout the previous proceedings, suddenly lost their backbones.
It started with one commissioner recommending the commission set a "good precedent" by totally forgiving Chael save for a couple of T tests in the unforeseeable future. Yeah, that’ll set a precedent all right: for professional athletes with sudden revelations of gonad deficiency.
When the original sentence came up for vote—that's a one-year suspension and $2500 fine, by the way—it went down in flaming defeat. The commission then reduced his sentence to six months, and that only just barely passed the vote.
That means Chael will be eligible to fight again in early March. Seeing as how his last fight was this past August, that pretty much puts him back into action when he would have been fighting again anyways.
Meaning for the price of a steep speeding ticket, Chael Sonnen got away with cheating in a UFC title fight.
This ruling is a disgrace. Nothing more, nothing less. In fact, the whole day's proceedings were a tour de force of incompetence and nincompoopery on the part of the CSAC.
From totally bungling whatever Josh Barnett's "hearing" was supposed to be, to not knowing their own rules or the results of their own tests, fans looking for some assurance that someone or something was running the uppermost levels of the sport were doubtless left disappointed.
This ruling says anybody that can come up with a good enough sob story can get his or her sentence reduced. In fact, as the case of James Toney proved earlier, you probably don't even need a good story. Just showing up to protest is enough to overturn a positive test result.
Chael Sonnen cheated and got away with it. The sport and all involved with it should be ashamed.
By Elton Hobson