Chael Sonnen can add another interesting distinction to his already interestingly distinct MMA career, as his 2010 dust-up with the California State Athletic Commission over testosterone replacement therapy has led directly to the CSAC passing a new amendment on the issue.
More specifically, the CSAC passed an amendment that will grant fighters the ability to request therapeutic use exemptions for drugs which are banned for competition but not for medical treatment by California. That encompasses both testosterone replacement therapy and marijuana, the two drugs at the forefront of the TUE discussion.
The story was first reported by Sports Illustrated.
The amendment has not been passed into law yet. The state’s Department of Consumer Affairs and Office of Administrative Law will both be required to review and sign off on the amendment before that can happen. This could take a considerable amount of time and there’s no guarantee that the amendment will be passed into law.
Following his UFC 117 title fight loss to middleweight champ Anderson Silva in 2010, Sonnen registered raised testosterone levels, in addition to testing positive for synthetic testosterone. Sonnen cited his affliction with hypogonadism as the reason for taking testosterone and said that he’d been cleared to undergo TRT by previous CSAC officials. Due to the confusion around his claims and the fact that no set process was in place to determine how or if a fighter could obtain a TUE, the CSAC got to work creating one.
Though no official TUE policy exists, Dan Henderson was granted an exemption approval for TRT by the CSAC for his usage for a November, 2011 bout against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua that took place in San Jose. Henderson’s case served as a beta test of the CSAC’s developing TUE requirements. The strict process that Henderson underwent to prove his actual need for TRT informed the CSAC on how to further develop those requirements.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the legitimacy by which fighters can obtain TUEs for varying substances is currently being called into question. Nick Diaz’s positive test for marijuana brought up the possibility of TUEs for that drug. Several high-profile fighters have been revealed to be undergoing TRT questionably and/or have registered elevated T/E Ratios (Chael Sonnen, Nate Marquardt, Alistair Overeem) recently, leading many to ask if TUEs for TRT aren’t just loopholes to allow for sanctioned doping.
One way or the other it’s an issue that athletic commissions, like California, need to be addressing.