Out of everything we learned in the explosive CSAC hearing yesterday, the hardest one for MMA fans to deal with is this: Chael Sonnen was innocent. Chael Sonnen was right.
And so was the CSAC, when they reduced Sonnen's sentence to six months.
By so doing, they sent a clear message to the sport and all who follow it—that facts, not hearsay, will govern the way this sport is run. That clear-headed athletic commissioners, not angry Internet fan boys, will be the ones to set policy. That this sport will not discriminate against those suffering from a handicap just because our society demands a "bad guy" be “punished” in every single case.
Chael Sonnen suffers from hypogonadism, a debilitating illness that lowers the natural production of testosterone in the subject’s body. Seeing what Chael has accomplished in the face of this athletically debilitating condition—undiagnosed until 2008—is nothing less then inspiring. National champion wrestler, Olympic team alternate, MMA pseudo-champion. Not to mention his real estate endeavors and lightning rod political career.
If his testosterone had been at normal levels his whole career, who knows what he might have accomplished? I guarantee you he would have found a way to beat Jeremy Horn at least one of those three times.
But a man like Sonnen has no time for past regrets and could-have-beens. Instead, he sought the help of modern medicine to deal with his affliction. Not the clothing brand, mind you—though its effect on your manliness is roughly the same.
In order to properly address his condition, he began taking regular testosterone injections under his doctor’s direction starting in 2008. It should be noted right here and now that Sonnen fought several times while taking these injections and never failed any drug tests. His injections were medically supervised and well within the bounds of what we would consider "normal treatment."
Of course, all it takes is one little mistake, and the court of public opinion will crucify you like a back-ne'd Jesus.
Going into his title fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 117, there may not have been a more hated fighter in the sport then Mr. Sonnen. When he pissed hot following the fight —which he lost, by the way, in case anyone wanted to argue his T shots "effected the outcome" of the bout—he was written off by everyone as guilty. Anderson Silva is Brazilian superman, and only on the juice could Chael have kicked his ass for nearly 25 straight minutes.
I admit his campaign of ridiculous trash talk leading into the fight damaged his credibility somewhat when his feet got put to the fire over this. I half expected to hear him say it was Hispanic-Chael who had melted a hole in that urine-sampling cup.
But one need only look at the facts of the case to see that Chael is clear of any wrongdoing here. So he didn't disclose his condition on his prefight medicals? He had already informed Keith Keizer in Nevada, and been advised by possibly the most influential commissioner in any AC to keep his mouth shut.
More importantly, I sympathize with his embarrassment over divulging his condition in such a public setting. I know if I was in a room full of Brazilian badasses I had spent weeks slandering on a national level, I wouldn't want to project anything but 100 percent testicular function.
Instead, he went right to the head honcho and told Chris Dodd, chairman of the CSAC, exactly what his condition was and what he had done to correct for it. Dodd heard what Sonnen had to say and ok'd the fight regardless.
And there's the smoking gun. No less then the chairman of the CSAC knew Sonnen was taking supplemental T shots before he got in the ring with Silva. And he let him fight anyways. Maybe it was a mistake, but it certainly wasn't Chaels. For the CSAC to uphold Sonnens sentence would be to admit their own processes are flawed and broken.
Chael told the chairman and instead of being told to, I dunno, withdraw from the fight for improper medication use, Dodd told Sonnen nothing. Instead of initiating a full blown investigation, calling off the event, and following the established rules of his own commission, he nodded his head, looked the other way, then hid behind "lack of a positive test" to explain away his negligence.
So what, if I went up to Chris Dodd before a fight and claimed I was smuggling a loaded gun up my ass into the ring, would he be unable to stop the fight in lieu of not actually seeing its ivory plated handle protruding from between my cheeks?
C’mon. This guy’s job is to protect fighter safety and educate fighters on the proper rules and regulations. Mr. Dodd did not do this with Chael. The fault lies solely with him.
Chael presented a case before the commission that was clear, coherent, and supported by testimony and medical evidence. And presented with this, the commission wisely chose to reduce their sentence.
This ruling was a victory for handicapped people everywhere. It says to any prospective fighter out there that no matter who you are, where you come from, or to what degree your gonads produce testosterone, you can seek proper medical treatment and still pursue your dream of being an Ultimate Fighting Champion. Hell, this wasn't just a victory for the handicapped—it was a victory for the very notion of the
The hearing room itself was full of the MMA media, most of them doubtless looking to burn Sonnens reputation in effigy. The entire drab affair was stream lived on the Internet to thousands of bloodthirsty Chael haters, as if Chael Sonnen was the Lindsay Lohan of MMA. All that was missing was the ultra subtle insulting slurs written across Chaels fingernails—quick, somebody call Joe Rogan.
So in light of all that weight of public opinion, I beg you to judge Chael on the merits of the man himself and the specifics of his case, not the general ebb and tide of the other Shredog.net posters.
He has a condition that would be a legitimate handicap to a professional athlete. He sought legitimate remedy within the boundaries of law. And he personally informed the chairmen of the two biggest AC's in the world.
Like it or not, the only story to see here is one of CSAC incompetence' and them then correction their own gross error. Chael Sonnen in innocent people. Simple as that.
Speaking of gross errors, let's let Sonnen have another 25 minutes with Anderson to correct his own big mistake. Cause we all know he would take that fight in a second.
Some would call that having balls.
By Elton Hobson