Thursday, December 8, 2022

Sonnen Dismisses Steroid Allegations Against McGregor

Former UFC star Chael Sonnen has appeared to defend Conor McGregor against ongoing accusations of steroid usage in light of revelations about his USADA status.

McGregor, a former champion at both featherweight and lightweight, has been on the sidelines since an appearance at UFC 264 last July. In the event’s headliner, the Irishman’s trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier ended with him suffering a gruesome broken leg at the end of the first round.

Having been focused on rehab and recovery in the following months, talk of a possible return to the Octagon has stepped up in recent times. But with that increasing discussion came a troubling report surrounding the former champ-champ’s USADA status.

Last month, an MMA reporter discovered that McGregor is the sole UFC athlete, barring signings made after August 1, to have not been tested by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in 2022.

The revelation immediately came under scrutiny, with many suggesting that the Dublin native has been using steroids during his time away from the cage — claims that his bulked-up physique didn’t help to dispel.

And at UFC 280 this past weekend, Dana White revealed that McGregor actually removed himself from the testing pool.

While many once again suggested that was owing to a desire to utilize PEDs without testing and punishment from USADA, former two-division title challenger Chael Sonnen sees things differently.

Previously, Sonnen suggested that McGregor must come out and explain why he hasn’t been tested. While that’s yet to happen, the 45-year-old has now seemingly provided the MMA star’s defense for him.

During a video recently uploaded to his YouTube channel, Sonnen dismissed the notion that McGregor’s current appearance means he must have used steroids.

“Conor comes out and he looks big. Then it gets revealed that he’s not in the USADA testing pool. ‘Conor’s taking anabolic agents.’ No, no. Guys, two plus two does not equal four, not if that’s your two,” Sonnen said. “It’s just not that way. Conor did not look overly strong, by the way. That’s not what you saw in those pictures. You saw a guy who was bloated. Why would he be bloated? Well, he’s bloated because he’s not sweating out six pounds a day like his body’s used to doing and had done every day for the last decade.

“So he’s retained a lot of water weight. ‘Ah, no, Chael, look closer, he’s ripped up,’ Conor’s always been ripped up! Conor’s always been blessed with good DNA and a great big, strong body, whether it was at 145 pounds, 153 against Floyd, 155, 170 pounds against Cowboy Cerrone,” Sonnen added. “He’s always looked that way.”

Sonnen Gives Alternate Explanation For McGregor’s USADA Absence

Not only does Sonnen doubt claims that McGregor’s absence from the USADA testing pool is down to steroid usage, “The American Gangster” also outlined two explanations that he believes logically explain the situation.

Firstly, the fighter-turned-analyst shone a light on USADA’s whereabouts policy, which requires athletes to update an app with their location at all times so that they can be found for random testing.

For a fighter who knows they won’t be competing any time soon, and who has the global commitments and frequent travel plans that McGregor does, Sonnen believes it makes sense to avoid whereabouts violations by exiting the testing pool.

“‘Well, Chael, we have more evidence. He’s been removed from the USADA pool.’ Okay, let’s take a look at that. There’s a few reasons you would want to be removed,” Sonnen suggested. “First and foremost, for the life someone lives like McGregor, bouncing around, he’s got homes in different countries, let alone media, obligations, and sponsorships. With USADA, there is a whereabouts violation… You see where that becomes a problem if you’re Conor McGregor?”

While he dismissed the idea that the move derives from the desire to utilize steroids, Sonnen didn’t rule out drug-related reasons altogether.

Another possible explanation, Sonnen suggested, is that McGregor simply wants to avoid the need to check everything doctors have prescribed him during his recovery from injury.

“You do have the other side of the coin,” Sonnen noted. “The other side of the coin is simply, ‘I am going to listen to my doctor and I’m going to listen to him immediately. That could put me in violation.’ Demetrious Johnson said, ‘I’m the champion of the world and I don’t know what’s allowed and what isn’t.’ … If you’re working with a doctor, particularly for rehab, you now have to a level of research.

“Doctor says, ‘I’m going to give you this,’ you say, ‘Okay, I’ve got to reference that.’ … This got tested with BJ Penn. They made IVs illegal… he goes into the emergency room, the doctor immediately gives him an IV… that became banned… You can either absolutely adhere to the rules or you are smarter and more responsible to remove yourself,” Sonnen continued. “If you stay in the pool, that (would be) the irresponsible move.”

McGregor has continued to tease a comeback in recent weeks and months, both through the posting of training footage and remarks about a successful return to the top. But while excitement may be building among his fanbase, the Irishman will need to complete a stint back in the testing pool before making the walk again.

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