The result of an out-of-competition drug test has wiped out a heavily anticipated Ultimate Fighting Championship bout between Chael Sonnen and Vitor Belfort.
There has been a question all along as to whether Belfort was going to get cleared for the July 5 bout at Mandalay Bay on the UFC 175 card, after tests in February showed elevated testosterone levels. But it was Sonnen who failed a random drug test administered by the Nevada Athletic Commission last month and will be unable to fight.
According to the NAC, Sonnen’s sample showed the presence of Anastrozole and Clomiphene.
Sonnen will be placed on the agenda for the June 17 NAC meeting for the purpose of determining whether he will be issued a temporary suspension. Belfort is still scheduled to appear at the meeting to seek a license to fight in the state, though it’s unclear whether the UFC will name a replacement opponent for him less than a month from the fight.
Sonnen had been competing under a therapeutic-use exemption for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). The controversial loophole was eliminated by the NAC in February. Several other commissions have followed suit.
Sonnen appeared on Fox Sports 1 on Tuesday night to address the failed test.
“I had to take these drugs because they banned testosterone. So to be in compliance, you have to stop with testosterone. Now there’s a transition phase, to come off of testosterone healthily,” he said. “I have a legitimate medical need for testosterone. I was not an abuser. I was a user of testosterone. So when you come off of this and you have a medical need, you must transition. I took Clomiphene and HCG.
“This also serves as a fertility drug. That was an accident. I was having fertility issues. That’s not part of my life that I wanted to share with anybody else. And we had success. I took these substances. They’re not illegal and not performance-enhancing.”
Sonnen plans to argue his case and appeal the results to that body next week.
“There is a huge distinction between illegal versus banned. These are perfectly legal substances. These are not performance-enhancing drugs,” Sonnen said during his TV appearance. “They are not steroids of any kind. It’s very tough to be caught in this. They changed the rules. I have to comply with rules. However, there is a transition period. I couldn’t have been more open or transparent. Anybody I could talk to about this, I did.”
He did not, however, inform the NAC.
UFC president Dana White, appearing on the same TV show, said Sonnen’s test result is part of the process of eliminating TRT exemptions from the sport.
“I’m not shocked. This has been lingering,” White said. “This stuff has been legal. TRT was legal. Now the (NAC) said it’s illegal. Now it’s got to go away, but there’s going to be side effects of stopping this thing cold turkey. It just doesn’t work that way. When it went away, they didn’t do a very good job of figuring out how to get these guys off it.”
Sonnen’s argument appears to center on the difference between substances banned in and out competition. The World Anti-Doping Agency does have separate lists of substances that are banned during competition and at all times.
“If this was game day, I’m not making any statements that I’m making today,” Sonnen said. “On game day, you have to come in right.”
Both substances Sonnen tested positive for are on the list of what is banned at all times.
Sonnen previously was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission after testing positive for an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio following a middleweight title fight against Anderson Silva in 2010. He admitted undergoing TRT at the time and said the confusion resulted from his failure to disclose the treatment to the commission.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at email@example.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.