Sonnen, a known user of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), tested positive for the banned substances Anastrozole and Clomiphene in a Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) ordered random test on the weekend of UFC 173. Both substances are considered anti-estrogen treatments, which Sonnen claims to have been using as a means to transition himself off TRT in the wake of the NSAC's recent ban.
"My reaction isn't shock," UFC President Dana White said on FOX Sports 1. "This has been lingering. This stuff was legal. TRT was legal, then the Nevada State Athletic Commission said it's illegal now, it's gotta go away, but there's gonna be effects of stopping this thing cold turkey. It just doesn't work that way.
"I wish that the commission never let anybody use TRT, and when it went away, they didn't do a very good job of figuring out how to get these guys off of it. When you get off it, you don't just go cold turkey. There's things you've got to do. If you don't take these estrogen blockers, they can get side effects from it. Chael Sonnen is at a point in his life, in his career, where he got married, he's trying to have children. He was on medicine to get fertile and have a baby, and his wife is now pregnant so it worked. This is between Chael and the commission, but the rules should've been laid out better when they said ‘that's it, it's over.'"
Sonnen is expected to appeal the test result and will face a commission hearing in the coming weeks. Regardless of its outcome, though, the 37-year-old veteran will likely remain absent from UFC 175's card.
White went on to deny that there was a perception of widespread drug abuse in mixed martial arts, as well as erroneously state that only five UFC fighters had applied for a TRT exemption while the treatment was legal.
And as far as where the blame lay in regards to Sonnen's situation, White's answer was simple.
"Both are at fault," the UFC President said. "I think the Nevada State Athletic Commission could've laid it out better for how they were going to end this thing, what would be banned and what wouldn't be banned for the guys coming down off it. Again, it's a matter of, they're not very educated on TRT. It's the thing that's made this whole thing impossible.
"Anyway, it's Chael fault too because Chael should've called the athletic commission and said, ‘this is what my doctor told me I need to do to come down off this stuff, so here's what I'm taking.' He absolutely should've done that."