MMA: CSAC Doesn't Know the Rules; Sonnen Suspension Downgraded

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Ok, in my days as a credentialed member of the media, nothing was more fun than watching the ineptitude of various state athletic commissions.  While I concede that they are an absolute must in the sorted world of combative sports, the fact remains that there are a lot of people of the states’ payroll that probably should not be in such an important position.  

The latest case in point comes from the desk of the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC).  Having applauded their work in the curious case of Chael Sonnen’s pathological lying; I have to say that I’m far less impressed with their recent admission of oversight that seriously cuts Sonnen’s “indefinite suspension” to a very definitive one month suspension. 

The CSAC release reads as follows:

Upon reviewing the May 18, 2011 decision of the California Athletic Commission, an error in the applicability of Rule 399 was made.

The rule states that, "Any applicant who has been denied an application for a license may not file a similar application until one year from the date of the last previous denial by the commission. Any application filed within the one year period may be denied without the necessity of a hearing. Anyone who has had his license revoked may not petition for reinstatement or apply for a new license until one year after the date of such revocation. Any petition for reinstatement filed within the one year period may be denied without the necessity of a hearing." Since the Commission did not revoke or deny Mr. Sonnen's license, the rule does not apply.

Given that Mr. Sonnen's license will expire on June 29, 2011, the suspension imposed upon the license will be extinguished by operation of law. Therefore, Mr. Sonnen may reapply for a license at any time following that date. He will, however, be required to appear at a Commission meeting to have his application considered. If the Commission denies his application, Mr. Sonnen will have to wait one year from the date of the denial.

The last part reading, “He will, however, be required to appear at a Commission meeting to have his application considered,” seems to be the lone saving grace of this announcement.  As we pointed out before the severity of Sonnen’s actions are lost on the lying aspect of the ruling.  We should all be up in arms over the fact that Sonnen’s lies were to cover up his use of performance enhancing testosterone treatment. 

Spare me the argument that Sonnen’s doctor provided.  Statements that Sonnen needed to treatments to “get out of bed in the morning,” ring hollow when you realize that Sonnen tested positive for having more than the allowable limit of testosterone in his system.  If Sonnen truly suffered from the ailment of hypogonadism then his treatment should only raise his testosterone limits to that of a normal level, not exceed it. 

Unfortunately, what seemed to be an adequate suspension of now erodes to little more than a wrist slap.  Sonnen will eventually get his license back in California, or Texas will go maverick again and license him anyway (see Antonio Margarito).  Things will go on like business as usual and fight fans will soon forget about this ruling.  Sometimes being cynical is being realistic.