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Chael Sonnen can re-apply for California license in May of 2012; UFC can attempt to book him elsewhere
May 19, 2011 - 6:00:17 PM
By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
California State Athletic Commissioner George Dodd has clarified the length of time that Chael Sonnen will need to wait until being able to re-apply for a license in the state of California following the commission's decision to uphold his indefinite suspension during a special hearing on Wednesday.
Per Dodd, in comments made to MMAFighting.com, Sonnen is allowed to re-apply after May 18, 2012.
"One of our rules, in our Title IV [of the California Code of Regulations], stipulates that you have to wait one year after an appeal of your suspension or revocation of license," Dodd said. "And since he appealed this [on May 18, 2011], it's one year from the day of denial."
Sonnen will be free to try to get a fight in another state or even in another country that doesn't have a commission, but there's no guarantee the UFC will attempt to promote him elsewhere to skirt the CSAC's ruling. At any rate, there likely wouldn't be any chance of him getting approved elsewhere until at least the end of his technical suspension, when his license expires, on June 29.
Should he wait out the entire year and attempt to apply again in California, Dodd says Sonnen will need to show proof of rehabilitation, much like they asked of Josh Barnett in December.
"[Sonnen] is going to have to show that he's done something to promote the sport, promote goodwill," Dodd said. "He does a lot of good things already. He talks to kids and stuff like that about making right decisions. But he's going to have to show that he's making the right decisions as well. You can say it, but you have to make those decisions yourself."
But with Sonnen's claims that he needs to use testosterone injections as a regular therapy for hypogonadism, rehabilitation won't be his only issue before returning. He'll need to go through the process of actually getting approval for any testosterone replacement therapy, and Dodd gave a glimpse of what that might entail.
"What would happen is he would... request it through the athletic commission," Dodd said. "The commission would probably request that the medical advisory committee review it. The medical advisory committee would review it and then make a recommendation back to the commission whether or not to approve or disapprove."
Sonnen claimed during Wednesday's hearing that failure to procure his license now would mark the end of his MMA career, and even said that UFC President Dana White is the one that placed that importance on the proceedings. However, there's no word yet on what the UFC may do, and with the many statements he's made over the last nine months and beyond, not many will take him at his word on that result.
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Penick's Analysis: The worst part about this for Sonnen is that it didn't need to be like this. Had he not tried to pull one over on the Commission in December by attributing false conversations and assertions to the Nevada State Athletic Commission to get the CSAC to reduce his suspension, and had he just accepted his initial punishment, he'd be able to likely return to action this fall. His initial suspension would have expired in the beginning of September, at which time he would have been able to re-apply for a license.
If his TRT is a legitimate necessity - and many believe it's simply his excuse to cover up PED use - then he would have then been able to go through the steps of getting his use of testosterone approved by the commission for medical use. Even that would be a privilege not afforded to most professional athletes, as TRT is banned in most major sports. But by lying to the commission in December, changing his story in different interviews and overall making himself out to be an untrustworthy person, he's lengthened his time out of the sport and extra nine to ten months at best from what it would have been had he simply accepted that he was caught breaking the rules and taken the punishment.
Now, it's on the UFC as to whether they'll attempt to promote him elsewhere after his California license expires in June. They could book him in Canada, or the UK, or Texas, somewhere where the CSAC's decision won't necessarily have an affect. Much like Antonio Margarito was allowed to fight in Texas after having his license revoked in California, it's not out of the question that Sonnen can fight elsewhere. But that would mean the UFC actively going out of the authority of one of the biggest commissions, and when they've often championed the power of the commissions many times in the past that wouldn't look very good on their part.
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