When one of Mike Dolce's most famous clients, Chael Sonnen, got busted a second time in less than a month for banned substances, MMA's most famous nutritionist had to separate business from friendship.
"As a friend, I support Chael, I love the guy, he's done amazing things," Dolce said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "On a professional level, it is certainly disappointing."
On Saturday night, MMAFighting.com broke the news that Sonnen failed a second Nevada Athletic Commission drug test,just two weeks after the initial test failure which caused Sonnen to announced he retirement. In the second test, administered on June 5, Sonnen tested positive for human growth hormone, recombinant human erythropoietin, anastrolzole, and human chorionic gonadotrophin.
"I was disappointed," Dolce said. "Disappointed in Chael and disappointed that that's the way his career is going to finish, unfortunately. I feel that Chael, I do believe he's one of the greatest athletes in the sport, I've seen him do amazing things in the training room. I feel that he had a lot of great fights in him, not just on the entertainment side, but on the true performance side in the Octagon. Its disappointing just to see the way this all kind of finished out."
Dolce claimed that as a nutritionist, he is not privy to performance-enhancing drug use by the fighters whose diet he oversees, saying the athletes often go so far out of their way as to loop their own families out of the fact they're using.
"I knew he was working with doctors," Dolce said. "I knew he was under a doctor's care. I don't cross the line as far as what I do, I'm a nutritionist, I'm a performance peaking coach, a lifestyle side. When it comes to the medical side, as long as my athletes are being cared for by a qualified medical staff, that's their role, that's what they do, I'm not qualified to do that."
"From what Chael said, he's under the doctor's care, the commission is aware of the things that he was doing," Dolce continued. ‘I know the TRT transition was difficult for him to come off, but he was under a doctor's care for that. When that came out I didn't feel bad about that, because that's what the guy needed to do. What happens with the commission, that's up to Chael and the commission. But ultimately the guy's got to be healthy and as far as the second test goes, that's Chael's business."
Asked point blank whether any use of HGH or EPO by a professional athlete amounts to cheating, Dolce wouldn't go quite that far, but said reasons for legitimate usage would be rare at best.
"I'm not going to come out and say that and drop that sound bite," Dolce said. "There are medical reasons to take those things, but in a young, healthy adult, those reasons are very, very slim. So not knowing what the case is, not knowing what the medical diagnosis or the prescription was, I can't really speak to that, but it would be very rare."
Dolce had no ambivalence, however, when it came to Victor Conte. Conte, a convicted felon who served four months in federal prison after pleading guilty in 2005 to conspiracy to distribute steroids and money laundering, is best known for his work with BALCO and baseball slugger Barry Bonds.
Dolce didn't hold back in his reply.
"He's been proven to be a criminal, proven to be a liar, he's proven to be a cheater," Dolce said.
"Everybody who knows me knows exactly what I do. He knows my protocol, he knows the way that I live my lifestyle. Unfortunately, that individual, he's just looking for some sort of relevancy. ... Because I have relationships with Chael and with Vitor, now that's where this interview is trying to make some sort of connection. But the connection is so thin it's ridiculous.
"He does the sport and any sport and extreme disservice," Dolce continued. "What he's done, he's ruined athletes careers as a part of his way to make money for himself. That's what he does. He tries to ruin people's careers. It's unfortunate. I try to help people."