On Thursday, a closed-door meeting of the Massachusetts State Boxing Commission – spurred by a union complaint – will determine whether UFC fighter Chael Sonnen receives a license to fight at UFC Fight Night 26 next week.
A representative for the state's Department of Public Safety, which oversees the commission, said that following a complaint from the union, the commission elected to hold the meeting after its regular session to determine whether Sonnen is appropriately using testosterone replacement therapy.
"The commissioners will sit in and they'll hammer out the issue," DPS spokesman Terrel Harris today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
). "When they've made a final decision, they'll let everybody know what that decision was. Bottom line is that they have to do it relatively soon, because the fight's a week from Saturday."
Harris believed the complaint was lodged by Unite Here, a union based in New York and Washington, D.C., and declined to reveal its contents. However, a Unite Here rep later provided a copy of the complaint the union recently filed with the commission.
The complaint is not directed at Sonnen's TRT use but rather his conviction in 2011 on a single federal charge of money laundering, and states that the commission has the right to deny his license based on a conviction involving "moral turpitude."
A press release forwarded to MMAjunkie.com also states that a dozen Unite Here members plan to attend the public portion of tomorrow's commission meeting.
"A dozen UNITE HERE activists will voice their objection to the issuance of a license to Mr. Sonnen at a public meeting Thursday of the State Athletic Commission, and will hand-deliver the complaint to Public Safety Secretary Andrea Cabral, who oversees the Athletic Commission," the release states. "The union activists will deliver the same information to the Boston offices of Eaton Vance Management, an investment management firm that has invested in the debt of Zuffa, LLC, the Las Vegas-based parent of the UFC."
The UFC declined comment when contacted by MMAjunkie.com. Sonnen did not respond to multiple phone calls.
The three-time UFC title challenger and UFC commentator is scheduled to fight Mauricio Rua in the headliner of the FOX Sports 1-televised event, which takes place Aug. 17 at TD Garden in Boston.
The complaint follows another move by Unite Here to bar minors from attending the event. A petition was filed this past week by Boston City Council President Stephen J. Murphy and decried violence in the UFC and the behavior of its athletes.
For several years, MMA's industry leader has been hounded by a Las Vegas-based culinary union, which has backed several anti-UFC initiatives around events and in state legislatures.
Harris said the commission was aware of Sonnen's testosterone use, but didn't say whether the fighter had submitted medical documentation that is required by commissions when a fighter applies for a therapeutic use exemption.
"The executive session is to determine what acceptable levels of testosterone are for people who have a medical reason for testosterone supplements," Harris said.
In 2010, Sonnen was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission when a post-fight drug test at UFC 117, where he lost a bid for middleweight champ Anderson Silva's title, revealed the presence of an elevated testosterone-to-epistestosterone (T/E) ratio. The commission said the fighter failed to properly disclose his use of TRT, to which the fighter pointed to a pre-fight medical questionnaire in which he noted his use of the hormone, as well as his belief that he had received approval from a previous executive director for the commission. His subsequent appeal of the suspension resulted in his term being reduced from one year to six months and a fine.
Two years later, Sonnen applied for and received a therapeutic use exemption to use TRT for his rematch with Silva, which ended in a second-round TKO.
In previous interviews, Sonnen has said he will die if he doesn't use the hormone.
Harris said Sonnen wouldn't be in attendance at tomorrow's meeting and said the UFC hadn't been in touch with him about the situation. If the commission allows the fighter to compete against "Shogun," he will be required to undergo a pre- and post-fight drug test.
"Right now, he's not even licensed," Harris said.
This past month, Sonnen told Boston.com that his TRT use had been "accepted on the record."
"They had a meeting," he said. "But, I never broke a rule anywhere."