Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

No Holds Barred: Dr. Margaret Goodman on Chael Sonnen-Testosterone-California Commission Controversy, CTE, and More 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again discusses a number of critical health and safety issues for fighters in mixed martial arts and boxing with Dr. Margaret Goodman, a neurologist, the former chair of the Medical Advisory Board of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and the medical correspondent for No Holds Barred.

We begin by untangling what should have been a straightforward issue involving the suspension by the California State Athletic Commission of UFC fighter Chael Sonnen. The commission had originally suspended Sonnen for one year and fined him $2500 after finding that he had a very elevated level of testosterone in a postfight drug test following his August 7, 2010, loss to Anderson Silva. Sonnen claimed that he was being injected with testosterone as part of testosterone replacement therapy under the care of a doctor, but the commission noted that he had not received clearance from the commission to fight while taking these injections, much less that very elevated level of testosterone. Sonnen was found to have had a T/E ratio (testosterone to epitestosterone ratio) of 16.9-to-1, where the maximum allowed by the California commission and many others is only 4-to-1.

Yet at the California commission hearing on December 2, 2010, the suspension of Sonnen was cut in half to six months, meaning that he could fight again as soon as March 2011, about the same time he likely would have fought next had there been no suspension.

Dr. Goodman offers her view on how the California commission handled this entire situation. She noted that the commission never called as a witness any endocrinologist to evaluate the claims by Sonnen that he suffered from hypogonadism and needed these levels of testosterone injections. She also discusses how the danger to both fighters of Sonnen fighting with such an elevated testosterone level was buried in consideration of paperwork issues. And she comments on the practice by some promoters of having their own physicians evaluating fighters in their dressing rooms after their fights, instead of having them sent to hospitals.

We also discuss the issue of head trauma and the brain disease CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, in sports. While the National Football League has taken some steps to address these issues, thus far nothing has been done regarding them in combat sports like mixed martial arts and boxing. Dr. Goodman also comments on the responsibility of the media in dealing with these issues, as well as why athletes drinking alcohol is very dangerous, and much more.

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