A bit of context for today’s California hearing in which UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen made his case to have his suspension reduced or waived:
1. If this were a USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) or WADA (World) case, Sonnen would be toast. Ignorance would be no excuse.
2. That said, USADA and WADA have spelled out their rules in painstaking details, and the chain of authority is clear. Sonnen has come up with plausible scenarios to suggest the chain of authority was confused somewhere between Nevada, the UFC, California and some doctors of unknown employ. And you never want to hear a commission member say, “Moving forward, we need to have a rule.”
3. THAT said, Sonnen’s story had a few unfortunate assumptions and admissions on his part. He assumed that California’s system of notification was the same as Nevada’s. And he really doesn’t want to appeal to the legal system with the notion that he didn’t disclose something, even as an incremental step in the whole process, because he was worried that another fighter might peek over his shoulder.
The bottom line here is that Sonnen is asking for leniency on the basis that he was confused. California likely has no precedent that fits this case, and the commissioners will have a lot of discretion to set that precedent.
Given that, Sonnen really needed to come across as sympathetic. He needed to let his lawyer poke holes in California’s processes while he appeared humble and contrite.
Did he do that?