Ahead of his planned matchup against Wanderlei Silva at UFC 175, Chael Sonnen was tested twice by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC). Apparently, he tested positive for human growth hormone (HGH) and recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO) in a second test conducted by the NSAC on June 5.
The news broke on Saturday night via Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting.
While most are familiar with HGH, fans may not be as familiar with EPO. Cyclist Lance Armstrong’s high profile ‘blood doping’ case included use of the synthetic drug – a version of the natural hormone erythropoietin.
Per WADA’s website, “EPO is a peptide hormone that is produced naturally by the human body. EPO is released from the kidneys and acts on the bone marrow to stimulate red blood cell production.”
EPO therefore increases endurance. The drug speeds up red blood cell production, meaning more oxygen can get to the body and its muscles. For fighters, this means one’s stamina could increase and muscles get more oxygen allowing them to work overtime.
Following news of his first failed drug test for two banned substances on June 10, Sonnen retired the next day. At the monthly commission meeting in June, Sonnen was temporarily suspended by the NSAC. Though retired, Sonnen is going through the process as a formality.
At the UFC Fight Night post-fight press conference in San Antonio, senior director of public relations Dave Sholler made a statement regarding the matter.
“We are made aware that a second random test conducted earlier this month resulted in a positive test for additional banned substances,” Sholler said. “Chael will have an opportunity to appear in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission later this month, and through a statement released to the media, he has pledged to cooperate.
“We will support the commission and continue to ensure that all UFC competitors complete on an even playing field free of performance enhancing drugs and banned substances.”
At the next NSAC meeting on July 23, the commission will update Sonnen’s case file to include the new test results and are expected to discuss repercussions.