Yesterday Chael Sonnen retired from competitive Mixed Martial Arts on the heels of a failed drug test in which he was caught taking post cycle therapy (PCT) drugs to come off of his testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) which he was doing as a competitive professional athlete. Under old rules he was allowed to use TRT in order to maintain his testosterone at "normal" levels for men. When the rules were suddenly changed, he began a PCT in order to restore what natural testosterone production he had left.
Instead of simply accepting his suspension from his upcoming fight, Sonnen decided to retire. The question is why did he do this?
According to his press release,Sonnen made the decision in order to put his health and his family before fighting. From a health and quality of life standpoint this makes perfect sense, despite what his critics say.
Testosterone is an incredibly important hormone for men and women to keep balanced within their bodies. Testosterone plays many roles in keeping one’s body and mind healthy, fit and vibrant. Testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone in both men and women and it is present in mammals, birds and reptiles. It is produced by the adrenal glands, above the kidneys and in the pituitary gland. Men produce larger amounts of testosterone, than women, that aids in the development and maintenance of the testes and sperm production.
Around the age of thirty, testosterone levels begin to drop, by about 10% every decade thereafter. It is important to have your hormone levels checked by a doctor regularly, to make sure your body is producing enough testosterone. If not, then testosterone supplementation may be needed. Testosterone replacement therapy can take the form of injections, transdermal patches and gels, and oral therapy. In some mild cases hcg is used as TRT in men. Side effects of testosterone supplementation include acne and oily skin, sleep apnea, hair loss and/or thinning of the hair. One must out weigh the pros and cons of supplementation to having a deficiency of testosterone in the body.
When natural testosterone levels begin to drop in the body, many repercussions can occur as well. Without the proper levels of testosterone in the body one can suffer form excessive fatigue, reduced sexual interest, decrease in muscle mass, loss of muscle strength, increased body fat, weakened bones, back pain, cardiovascular risks, and sleep disturbances. Lack of testosterone on the brain can affect attention, memory, spatial ability and key cognitive functions. Evidence suggests that low testosterone levels may be a risk factor in the development of dementia of the Alzheimer's type.
With the demands of training and competing in MMA it is not unreasonable to allow an athlete to recover from TRT, which was previously allowed in the sport. Assuming that a fighter could train and compete effectively without attempting to restore his hormone levels is foolish and frankly irresponsible.
Sonnen should have had the opportunity to restore his hormonal levels to the best of his ability under the supervision of a doctor. Could he have continued his career despite discontinuing TRT? Now we will never know.