UFC, FOX Sports fire Chael Sonnen as on-air talent after second failed drug test
JUN 30, 2014 11:01p ET
Chael Sonnen's time as one of the faces of the UFC on FOX has come to an end.
The UFC and FOX Sports announced Monday that they each would be terminating their broadcasting services agreements with Sonnen, who was the co-host of UFC Tonight and an in-studio analyst for fight night coverage. It came out over the weekend that Sonnen failed his second drug test in a matter of weeks, this time testing positive for human growth hormone (HGH), among other banned substances.
"This decision comes in light of Sonnen failing a second test conducted by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) for banned substances in June," the statement reads.
Sonnen, 37, failed an initial drug test on May 24 while he was in Las Vegas for UFC 173. Sonnen tested positive for anastrozole, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and clomiphene. When the news came out June 10, he was pulled from a fight with Vitor Belfort at UFC 175 and a day later, he announced his retirement on UFC Tonight. Sonnen claimed he needed the drugs once he got off testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), because he was struggling to conceive a child with his wife, who is now pregnant. TRT was banned in Nevada in February.
It's much harder to explain away HGH and recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO). HGH is frequently used by athletes to increase performance and muscle mass. EPO can be used for endurance. Sonnen was already given a temporary suspension by the NAC following the first failed test and the second one, which was taken June 5 in Portland, Ore., will be added to the case against him.
"Yes, the Commission is aware of other prescribed medications I was taking and I will not challenge their allegations," Sonnen said in a statement to MMA Fighting on Saturday. "I will cooperate with the Commission and look forward to having a dialogue about how fighters who transition off TRT can avoid violating any rules."
Sonnen fought for a UFC title three times, falling twice to then-middleweight champion Anderson Silva and once to light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Known for his at-times outlandish trash talk, Sonnen became one of the organization's top pay-per-view draws. When the UFC and FOX Sports entered into a broadcasting agreement in 2011, the quick-witted and charismatic Sonnen was a quick study on the air and became a rising star as an analyst and host.
Sonnen has a history with performance-enhancing drugs. He tested positive for elevated testosterone levels after his first fight with Silva and was suspended then by the NAC as well.