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Chael Sonnen defends positive drug test, 'absolutely' intends to file appeal

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Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Chael Sonnen revealed on Tuesday that he plans to appeal the results of the random Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) sanctioned drug test that took place in late-May and wiped out both Sonnen and his rival, Wanderlei Silva, from UFC 175's fight card.

Sonnen, a veteran UFC middleweight, FOX Sports analyst, and until recently, known user of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), tested positive for two banned substances -- Anastrozole and Clomiphene -- NSAC executive director Bob Bennett confirmed on Tuesday.

Both of the substances commonly serve as anti-estrogen treatment, which Sonnen claims to have needed in order to successfully transition off TRT following the NSAC's recent ban.

"These are not performing enhancing drugs," Sonnen said in a Tuesday interview with FOX Sports 1. "These are not anabolics. These are not steroids of any kind.

"[The NSAC] changed the rules, and I've got to comply with the rules. I don't resist that at all. However there is a transition period, and I couldn't have been more open or more transparent, whether it was UFC Tonight, whether it was different interviews in different places. Anybody that I could tell, that I could talk to about this, I did. These are the medications that you have to go on to lead a healthy life, and if you're asking me to choose between my health and my sport, that's not a choice I can make. I've got to choose health."

According to Sonnen, doctors told the fighter that he "had to cross a 50-day bridge," during which he would transition off TRT while taking Clomiphene and HCG, before he would be able to be in compliance with the NSAC's restrictions. The 50-day period was scheduled to end on May 1, and the treatments were supposed to exit Sonnen's system by May 10.

The random test which Sonnen ultimately failed took place on May 23. It was administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), under the jurisdiction of the NSAC.

"I have a legitimate medical need for testosterone," Sonnen explained. "I was not an abuser. I was a user of testosterone. So when you come off of this and you have a medical need, you must transition. Now what you'll take is Clomiphene and HCG. I took Clomiphene and I took HCG. That is what happened. Now this also serves as a fertility drug. That was on accident. I didn't know I was having fertility issues. That's not part of my life I wanted to share with you or anybody else. That can be very embarrassing, but now it's out.

"I've never had an opportunity to [tell a NSAC] official," Sonnen continued. "The way that it generally works -- and fellow fighters will get this, I'm not sure that you or the viewers will -- when the commission comes to you, they will come to you with a form where you get to disclose anything that's in your system and why you took it. Basically, as long as you write it down and it's not an anabolic, it's not illegal, it's not a performance enhancing drug, you're going to get a pass. What they don't want is fighters who are trying to slip something through. This was a test done by USADA, it never came with that form. This is the only test I've taken in my history of competition and participation in Nevada that didn't come with that disclosure form.

"So I did the test, and the very first thing (after), I called and told my manager. I said, man, they never gave me an opportunity to disclose here. And we looked at the rules. It's not a performance enhancer, (so we figured) it's going to come back and we're not going to have an issue. I still haven't heard (from Nevada). I called them repeatedly today, I haven't gotten anything back. I went all the way to the attorney general's office, but they haven't called me back.

"An athlete does not have to remain off of medication 365 days a year," Sonnen added. "Not in the NCAA, not in the IOC, and not even with the Nevada State Athletic Commission. This is unprecedented. As an athlete, if break my arm and the doctor gives me Vicodin -- Vicodin is extremely illegal on fight night, but it's also an extremely appropriate medicine to cure somebody's pain if he has a broken arm. The message that they're sending here is completely wrong."

Sonnen's fate will now be left in the hands of the NSAC. His hearing is expected to take place within the upcoming weeks, potentially on the same day as Vitor Belfort's license application -- although the irony that Sonnen may befall a comparable fate to Silva, after serving as one of the Brazilian's harshest critics, has not been lost on many observers.

"These are radically different situations," Sonnen said. "One, a person ran from a drug test in an attempt to hide. I came out and was as transparent as can be. I've given a number of interviews where I've talked about this and I've disclosed this in every way I can. I'm also not on fight night. I hid nothing. I'm still not hiding it. You ask me how this got in my system, I'll tell you. Because I put it there. I took these substances, but they're not illegal. They're not performance enhancing.

"This is how we find out the rules. They never tell us the rules until we find out we're in violation of them. So if I am going to continue to be in violation of the rules, then I will have to make another plan. I do not offer you today that I should be able to be around the rules. That's not the case at all. But the rules are very hard to follow when it's a continual moving target and it's not equal for everybody.

"Throughout my career," Sonnen added. "I have had a number of labels. But in nine months, I will have the label of parent and father. And if I have to go through this and choose between having the label of being a father and a parent, or having the label of being an athlete, I am going to choose, every single time, parent and father. I know what I have done, and if I had to do it again, I would do the exact same way twenty more times."