CSAC Says Sonnen Will Get Chance to Explain Elevated Testosterone Levels

Should Chael Sonnen file an appeal with the California State Athletic Commission as his manager Mike Roberts indicated he would, he'll have his chance to explain why his post-fight drug test at UFC 117 showed elevated levels of testosterone. But that explanation may or may not be enough to placate the commission after the fact, said CSAC executive officer George Dodd.

Dodd told MMA Fighting on Tuesday that fighters are instructed to provide documentation explaining what substances they're taking and why before the fight, but couldn't say what might happen to Sonnen if he provides that documentation at a forthcoming appeal hearing.

"I can't speak for the commission as far as what they would do if someone came in afterwards," Dodd said. "I will say that usually when a fighter calls me up and says, 'Hey, I'm going to be fighting in California and this is what I'm taking,' I inform them right off the bat to get all the necessary documentation from the doctor and why you're taking it and they provide that to us. We send that to one of our doctors and they verify that that is a reason why and that is a proper treatment for that type of problem, and we usually don't have any problems after that."

Dodd also confirmed that Sonnen personally told him before the bout that he was taking "something," but said Sonnen didn't provide an explanation for why he was taking it. Dodd couldn't recall whether Sonnen told him what that something was.

"He told me that he was taking something and I informed my inspector to get with him and make sure we mark it down on our sheet that we use for drug testing, and then we moved forward with the drug testing," Dodd said. "I don't recall if he actually informed me what he was taking. ...I don't recall if he did or didn't. He might've, but we were doing a lot of drug testing that night. He may have."

Regardless, Dodd said that under the California regulations he could not have stopped Sonnen from fighting even after hearing beforehand that the fighter may be using a performance-enhancing substance.

While allowing a fighter to compete with a performance-enhancing substance in his system does seem to pose a risk to his opponent, Dodd acknowledged, there's no rule that allows for pre-emptive action without a positive drug test.

"You always have that concern, as far as the safety of the fighters and stuff. But the rules that we have here in California...says that we have to have an actual positive drug test from a laboratory before we can take any action. The question would have been, say he did tell me and his levels were normal. So you have to wait until the levels come back before you can take any action. You may not have any safety issue with the other fighter and you're damaging this guy's career."

Dodd added that he didn't "want anybody to jump to the conclusion that [Sonnen's] already guilty," following the positive drug test, though he also said that if Sonnen chooses to take no action the test will stand as an admission of guilt, and the fine and suspension will be carried out accordingly.

"But let him provide that documentation to the commission and let the commission make that determination if what he did warrants the suspension and the fine," Dodd said. "I would hope there's a reason why Chael was taking what he was taking and the commission will take that into account as far as what they're looking at for him."

Dodd said the letter informing Sonnen of his positive test was sent on September 16, and Sonnen has 30 days from that date to appeal. Should Sonnen file that appeal, his hearing will take place at the next commission meeting, which is scheduled for December 2 in Sacramento.

When asked about California's somewhat spotty history with drug test appeals – fighters such as Josh Barnett, Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, and Sean Sherk all came away unsatisfied with their respective days in court after appealing positive test results – Dodd, who became the CSAC executive officer in February of 2010, said the appeals process is as fair and as transparent as possible.

"I don't think there's any more fair thing we can do than have it in an open meeting. We don't do it behind closed doors; it's all done in the open. I think with Josh there was a misunderstanding between him and his lawyers – again, I wasn't here. But it says you have to appear before the commission. They're going to want to ask you questions. That's what I would say to Chael, is make sure you come. This is your hearing, not your lawyer's hearing. They're going to want to ask questions of you. I don't think anything needs to be changed because we do it in the open."

Update -- Fanhouse's A.J. Perez passes along the following information from a conversation with Dodd on Tuesday:

George Dodd, executive officer of the CSAC, told FanHouse on Tuesday that Sonnen's positive test for elevated testosterone was found by UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory using both the common testosterone-epitestosterone (T-E) ratio test along with the more precise carbon isotope ratio (CIR) screening. The CIR test can determine if elevated testosterone levels are the direct result to steroids or other drugs and is typically harder to challenge.

"They did two tests on the sample," Dodd said. "After we got confirmation of the second test, that's when we notified him."

Dodd said Sonnen came to him before the bout and admitted "he was taking something." Dodd said he ordered an inspector to mark Sonnen's statement down on a form before the sample was taken.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Dodd said he had not received notice of an appeal.

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