Thursday’s California Circus with Chael Sonnen & Josh Barnett
By Zach Arnold FightOpinion | November 30, 2010
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 [Performance Enhancing Drugs] 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.