Not long after the Nevada State Athletic Commission gave the green light to two-time drug-test-failing fighter Vitor Belfort, the commission’s members heard the case of the now-retired Chael Sonnen, and his pair of failed drug tests from May and June of this year.
Sonnen, whose failures cost him his broadcasting position with FOX Sports and strained his position with the UFC, kept his response brief.
“I don’t want to say anything to you that comes off as an excuse. I am guilty. I am ashamed. I don’t have any attempt to put up a defense.”
The commission itself seemed split on how to treat Sonnen, but he went on to say that:
“This is the way my father raised me. If you’re wrong you say you’re wrong.”
In the end, it seemed that lines in the commission were drawn, with comments including the likes of, “He brought it on himself,” and, “How much more do we want to beat this guy?” coming from various members. After a brief deliberation, a number of penalties were settled upon, including, most notably, a two-year suspension of Sonnen (though he had previously announced his retirement), an order that he cover the costs of his failed drug tests, and a stipulation that he work with the NSAC to educate fighters and to help the commission improve drug testing in the future.
First off, Chael Sonnon is a likeable character, despite all his scandals over the years. He’s an entertaining guy and good enough in the ring to back up at least some of his talk, but is he really someone you want working with the NSAC to clean up the sport?
Beyond that, how do you come down that hard on Sonnen—though it should be noted that other than the cost of the failed drug tests, including doctors fees, there was no fine handed down to Sonnen at all—but give Vitor Belfort a pass?
The NSAC has shown here that it’s business as usual when it comes to MMA—in other words, it’s almost completely ineffective, as it green lit one drug abuser, banned a fighter who had already retired, then essentially hired him on as a consultant.