Chael Sonnen has successfully applied for a therapeutic use exemption for his UFC 148 fight with Anderson Silva. The middleweight contender appeared in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission today to make his application in person.
NSAC unanimously voted to allow Sonnen the exemption, which allows him to undergo the controversial Testosterone Replacement Therapy which has figured in so many MMA headlines of late.
TRT is a medical procedure aimed at bringing the levels of testosterone-deficient persons into normal ranges; Sonnen was previously suspended by the California Athletic Commission for non-disclosire of this treatment.
That was after his first fight with Anderson Silva, at UFC 117. His urine showed elevated testosterone levels well outside the normal range. Initially he was suspended for a year, then had it shortened to six months on appeal, then had the full term reinstated when CSAC declared he had lied in his appeal.
Further complicating things for Sonnen was that the basis of his appeal had been to say that he had spoken to NSAC lead executive Keith Kizer about his TRT use and had received an exemption; Kizer went to see CSAC and told them this conversation never happened.
Even if it did, it had no bearing outside Nevada and Sonnen was quickly re-suspended. It led to considerable awkwardness between Sonnen and Kizer, with the latter insisting that Sonnen had to meet with him personally to explain himself about several public utterances which Kizer did not agree with. One such instance was a derogatory remark about referee Josh Rosenthal on a Nevada-overseen event.
Sonnen’s submissions to NSAC today were not without grey areas; a physician calling in to offer a medical opinion said that there was doubt regarding the suitability of Sonnen’s prescription for TRT at all. He said the original prescription was given on the basis of tests that were inconclusive, or at least had several possible interpretations.
NSAC also observed that some otherwise healthy adult males need TRT because of previously abusing anabolic steroids. Sonnen was asked if he had ever previously abused anabolic steroids and he answered in the negative. The commission members then looked at each other and - with no way of actually knowing whether that is true of not - decreed the answer acceptable and moved on.
Sonnen is now able to self-medicate between now and the fight, according to the terms of his prescription. But he must not exceeded a testosterone ratio of 6:1 whenever tested by NSAC and he must also submit to an extra blood test the morning after the fight, which he also has to pay for himself.
In a final twist, NSAC admitted that its policy and approach towards TRT needs an overhaul given the treatment’s increasing ubiquity in the fight game. Incredibly, Sonnen was formally asked if he would be able to act in a sort of consultancy capacity to the board as it worked through a new approach to the issue.
Assuming nothing goes wrong, Sonnen is now licensed and cleared for the July 7 rematch with Anderson Silva. It will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada and is going to be one of the highest-selling pay-per-view events of the year.