Yesterday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission convened to review several open cases. Usually, things like this don’t get much press, since it’s typically just old fighters applying for licenses, but yesterday was special. Vitor Belfort, one of those old fighters, was applying for a license to fight in Las Vegas, the first time fighting in the United States since 2011, and the first time fighting out of Brazil since 2012. Also on the docket was Chael Sonnen’s hearing for failing two pre-fight drug tests. As such, the entire event was available on the UFC’s Fight Pass network, so here are the key highlights and take aways from this session.
For Vitor, the main challenge in getting a license isn’t in the fact that he’s over 35, which is when athletic commissions start reviewing applications a little closer. No, in Vitor’s case, it’s the fact that he tested positive for steroids in 2006, then went on testosterone replacement therapy. It’s probably one of the more ridiculous cases for a therapeutic use exemption being granted because, yeah, you need TRT because you ruined your body’s ability to make natural testosterone by doing a bunch of steroids (Instead of being an old guy with terrible kidneys after 40+ years of wrestling-related weight cutting, like national treasure and American hero, Dan Henderson). Vitor also tested positive for elevated testosterone in 2014, prior to a proposed middleweight title fight with Chris Weidman. Around the same time, the NSAC decided to ban TRT completely, forcing Vitor to skulk back to Brazil and dry out the elevated levels of testosterone while carving more and more religious symbols into his hair.
So, what happened when he went in front of the colleciton of nincompoops that is the Nevada State Athletic Commission? He cried a bunch and then the NSAC felt really bad so they gave him a conditional license. Oh, and that test he failed in February? Turns out he was going to be traveling to the US, so his doctor in Brazil gave him a super-dose so Vitor wouldn’t have to carry around extra vials of testosterone. Because that’s how medicine works. Just take a whole bunch now and it’ll be fine, the medicine knows when it’s supposed to kick in! Vitor will now be randomly tested until he retires, both blood and urine, and he must not fight before December, and it must not be anywhere but Nevada. Then the commission chairman named Vitor as his best friend which seems like a weird conflict of interest.
Despite how ridiculous that sounds, it was just a prelim to the main event of the evening (well, early afternoon), and possibly main event of FOREVER. A handicap match between Chael P. Sonnen and the Nevada State Athletic Commission (Chairman Francisco V. Aguilar, members Pat Lundvall, Skip Avansino, Bill Brady, and Anthony A. Marnell III). Please keep in mind that in this instance, Chael has the advantage, because despite flat-out pleading guilty and offering up no defense, he got off relatively easily. Chael, who retired after the second positive test, is now suspended from MMA competition for two years and owes no money, other than the cost of the drug test. There were talks of a lifetime ban and a huge fine, but since he lost two jobs, his fight career and his analyst career, the NSAC took pity on Chael and didn’t want to beat up on him too much.
They want to take it easy on Chael so much that he was OFFERED A JOB IN AN ADVISORY ROLE FOR DRUG TESTING PROGRAMS. That’s some Catch Me If You Can, Frank Abagnale Jr type shit. Only “The American Gangster” could walk up, proclaim his supreme guilt and come out of the situation with a job offer.
Here’s how god damn ridiculous the offer is, look at Chael’s reaction. That is the look of a dude that won so damn big.
In keeping with drug testing, here’s a fun trip down memory lane. Enson Inoue recently posted a snippet from his PRIDE FC contract that states the now-defunct Japanese organization would test fighters for dangerous things like marijuana and heroin, but hey, no need to test for steroids.
At this point, I think the drug testing policies in the history of combat sports, in order of most effective to least effective go like this:
1. WWE Wellness Policy
2. Nevada State Athletic Commission
3. Pride Fighting Championships