Last summer, Chael Sonnen revealed that he suffers from hypogonadism, a condition that requires testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT) if he is to survive.
A letter written by University of Arizona Endocrinologist Karen Louise Herbst last month supports the claim but places doubt as to whether he needed therapy in the first place.
“It may be that suppression of his gonadal axis for that long may never allow a return to normalcy, and discontinuing his testosterone use at this time would be very disruptive to his career,” Herbst wrote, as reported by MMA Junkie.
The letter, sent to the Nevada State Athletic Commission prior to Sonnen’s UFC 167 fight, went on to say that it is “not clear that there was a definitive (without a doubt) diagnosis of hypogonadism.”
Sonnen received a therapeutic-use exemption from the commission prior to his Nov. 16 fight. Dan Henderson and Frank Mir are the only other UFC fighters previously given the same privilege.
Herbst believes that Sonnen’s initial diagnosis could have led to a different conclusion. “A second morning testosterone level that was lower than 300 ng/ml would have been more convincing than a level of testosterone drawn in the afternoon when levels are known to be lower in men,” she wrote.
While fighters may find TRT a taboo subject, there are misconceptions and lies associated with performance enhancing products. Sonnen, for example, needs it to stop the growth of female sex hormones.
Sonnen is set to coach The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 alongside Wanderlei Silva with a match between the two expected next summer.