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Thursday’s California Circus with Chael Sonnen & Josh Barnett

By Zach Arnold | November 30, 2010

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All of the hearing details can be found here. 157 pages (with about two being relevant). The meeting will take place on Thursday at 9:30 AM at 2005 Evergreen Street (Hearing Room) in Sacramento.

Who knows how the political winds have changed in California and whether or not this will be a forgiving appeals panel to one Chael Sonnen. What I do know is this — after Thursday’s hearing, we may find out some new angles to usage of PEDs in MMA. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned publicly that I thought it was curious that all of a sudden we are starting to hear reports about fighters allegedly using TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy). TRT is not exactly something that you associate with healthy guys in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Yes, I realize that 2010 became the year that lots of potions and infomercials for “Low T” (testosterone) got pitched to the public to buy the latest and greatest invention to give your sex life a boost and make you more active again like you used to be. However, we’re talking about MMA fighters here who are viewed by many fans as tremendous athletes. (More on a TRT defense here.)

Hormonal replacement therapy and TRT can, in some instances, be credibly explained. In other cases, the usage of such methods should raise a lot of red flags. If guys are hurting their bodies allegedly through bad weight cutting procedures or through the usage of PEDs, then it’s hard to say with a straight face that this is somehow a safe sport. After all, what is the purpose of TRT? It’s used when someone has a damaged endocrine system and has to synthetically boost their testosterone levels in their bodies. For most sports fans, this is not a topic you think much about. For pro-wrestling fans who have witnessed many public scandals involving online pharmacies and mark doctors, TRT is not a new revelation.

Which reminds me of the back-and-forth debate that happened between Josh Gross and Larry Pepe (here, here, and here) in which Larry challenged the idea that so many fighters would be visiting endocrinologists to get drugs to beat tests. A couple of things: a) what if fighters were allowed by the athletic commissions to use TRT or similar treatments and get exempted for it? b) who’s to say that there aren’t plenty of mark doctors out there willing to help certain gyms out with what is needed? We’ve seen plenty of mark doctors across various sports get busted for HGH or steroids to help out certain athletes.

What I think will be most interesting about Thursday’s meeting is not what the outcome of Chael Sonnen’s suspension will be but rather if the current debate on PED usage in MMA somehow gets advanced (if there are new defenses being used or new techniques revealed publicly that were once kept in the shadows). I have low expectations about Thursday’s appeals hearing, but if the hearings are going to serve any purpose then I think we may hear some explanations that could progress the media debate as to what is happening in the business for PED usage.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 18 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

18 Responses to “Thursday’s California Circus with Chael Sonnen & Josh Barnett”

  1. Keith Harris says:

    Hmm interesting: “Testosterone 1 shot 8/5/10”, “T/E ratio 16.9 +- 17%”.

    Ed. — Elaborate further for the readers. Thanks.

    • Keith Harris says:

      Sonnen admitted to using a testosterone shot the day before he was tested (so he has to use the testosterone replacement therapy excuse) and his T/E ratio was over four times the legal amount. Nevada wouldn’t stand for that, so why should California?

    • The limit for the ratio is like 4.0. 16.9 is way over the limit. No way they pull the suspension entirely. They might reduce it because, hey, they’ve reduced suspensions in the past for no good reason. But if they were to take the suspension back, they’d be opening the doors for any fighter who wants to get on a TRT plan and show up gassed out of their minds.

  2. First off – I think everyone should have probably done background research on Pepe before those articles were published about his “ethering” of Gross. In retrospect, the guy’s bio is pretty damning. He’s not a martial arts expert or long time MMA afficianado/media member, he’s a former bodybuilding insider that wrote fluff books about how Jay Cutler and other enormous roided up bodybuilders got to be as big as they are by dieting and doing reps and who now sells supplements. Its funny to see how much time the UFC is willing to give him. Like, is he supplying Lorenzo with synth? LOL

    But back to this. My guess is that like the NSAC (who’ve already stated this) they are fine with TRT usage so long as the level doesn’t rise above the threshold (either 3.0 or 4.0).

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    The only 2 things that are fair for Chael Sonnen are one of the two things:

    1) No suspension. I highly doubt this will happen, as he took a banned substance. But if there is some good reason he has, then no suspension.

    2) 8+ months. Anything less is pointless and really isn’t even much of a suspension.

    As for Josh Barnett…. There is only one outcome that makes sense for him…. BANNED FOR LIFE. He has been busted 3 times. There is no good reason for him to be able to ever fight again in a sanctioned region.

    • Steve4192 says:

      While my heart says ban Barnett for life, my head says only one those three failures technically counts as ‘cheating’.

      The first failure (after the Hoffman fight) was strictly a fact-finding test run and the commission made it clear that there would be no repercussions regardless of the results. The second failure (after the Couture fight) was a legit official bust. He was caught red handed cheating during competition. The third failure (pre-Fedor) was part of the licensing process so Barnett was not technically cheating since he was not technically a licensed fighter.

      Obviously, we all know Barnett is three time loser, but from a technical standpoint, only one of those steroid busts counts against him.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        If you catch a falling ball from hitting the floor, that doesn’t mean the ball wouldn’t have hit the floor if your hand didn’t get in the way.

        Barnett was a roids going into a fight. The test stopped his from doing so. just because they caught him before instead of after, doesn’t mean it should have any less effect on his punishment.

        • edub says:

          Technically his punishment for the third failed test was not getting his license.

          Now the commission could just vote not to reinstate his license, and we could have a situation like Antonio Margarito on our hands…

  4. EJ says:

    If this hearing is anything like pryor ones then it will no doubt be a circus, because for all the supposed fixing the CSAC has done. The way they have treated the Sonnen case so far has raised even more questions about how competent they are as an AC. I just want something real to come out one way or the other, I want facts, explanations and evidence from both sides. Not just the your guilty because our test says so and here’s your punishment bs that has passed for hearings in the past.

  5. robthom says:

    “157 pages (with about two being relevant).”


    This is california (its an obscured “finger trap”),
    and two steps behind at most the whole murika.

    • robthom says:

      BTW: If your going to complain about not having enough testosterone you might as well complain about not having enough muscles.

      People are and have always been built different ways.

      If god didn’t give you as much muscles or testosterone as the next guy then get better at Jiu Jitsu!

      You dont get to bend the rules because God put you on the earth different then another man IMO.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        Most guys who are under 40 getting Testosterone Replacement Therapy need it because of years of steroid abuse and now their bodies can’t produce it naturally.

        So I would go a step further then what you are saying…. Not only does NATURE (not god) make us different…. but fighters who are doing this are basically announcing to the world that they were juicing a lot in their past.

        Either way, Chael Sonnen is a cheater.

        • David M says:

          Most fighters have cheated at some point in their careers; get off your high horse.

        • edub says:

          Yea get off your high horse, it only gives fighters an unfair advantage over the people they’re competing against. Jeez

        • robthom says:

          different words for the same difference.

          (I’m not a terribly religious person, I just mostly think “God” sounds cooler.)

        • David M says:

          edub: what % of mma fighters do you think have cheated in their careers? I object to the way 45 marks them as morally repugnant; i would estimate that the majority of fighters have cheated via roids/hgh/greasing at some point in their careers.

        • fd says:

          Actually, there’s evidence that severe and consistent weight cutting can result in lowered testosterone production.

          So while I’m certainly not suggesting that it’s impossible Chael is a cheater, as a lifelong wrestler he certainly would be a likely candidate for non-cheating TRT (as would Hendo, to date the only notable fighter licensed for TRT by NSAC)

        • edub says:

          But you can’t just pass over punishment for people who are caught. No matter how prevelant some forms of it are in MMA.

          Fd: I had no idea about that. Do you know of any articles that have info on it?


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