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Chael Sonnen opens up on suspension: 'I tried to game the system'

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Esther Lin

We haven't heard much from Chael Sonnen since he was suspended for two years by the Nevada Athletic Commission last month after testing positive for a hodgepodge of banned substances.

Even Sonnen's appearance at Metamoris 4 in Los Angeles last weekend came and went without his classic hype and banter.

But the former UFC middleweight and light heavyweight contender opened up recently on pro wrestler Chris Jericho's "Talk is Jericho" podcast, going in depth with his take on the events which forced the cancelation of his planned UFC 175 bout with Vitor Belfort and made him decide to retire from mixed martial arts.

"I didn't think I'd be tested for another 44 days," Sonnen said of the random, pre-fight drug tests for which he was caught. "I tried to game the system.

"I was hit on a surprise test that was 44 days before a fight," Sonnen continued. "Generally in our business we're tested fight night, so whatever it is you're doing or you're not doing, you gotta show up clean on fight day. When I talk about being dirty, I'm not talking about steroids or illegal drugs. I gotta make this distinction, if you ever failed a drug test, you are automatically taking something illegal and they were steroids, that's just the way it works in people's minds. Well, first off, none of them were illegal, and none of them were steroids, but I never offered a defense. I turned in my prescriptions. I got this from the doctor, this was valid stuff, but, these are still against the rules, I knew it. "

At the end of the day, Sonnen knew that what we was doing was cheating, and said what athletes who have been busted have stated: That the drugs worked.

"I'm a grown man," Sonnen said. "I knew what I was doing I thought I could have my cake and eat it too. I can take this, I can feel great, they make me feel good, and that's one of the problems I have. They go ‘these are performance enhancers.' I go, 'guys, why else am I taking it?' I'm showing up to the doctors saying doc 'do you have anything to make me feel worse?'"

When asked what advice Sonnen - who also lost his job as a FOX Sports UFC analyst in the fallout to the suspensions - would give to others in his position, Sonnen had a simple message.

"Things change pretty quickly," Sonnen said. "People are forgiving when you're honest. ... If I could ever advise someone who is in my shoes, just come clean. Come as clean as you can, as quickly as you can. Then let the people decide."