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Ex-Oregon wrestler, MMA star Chael Sonnen retires after failed drug test

Chael Sonnen celebrates win over Maurico Rua at UFC Fight Night in Boston in August 2013
Chael Sonnen celebrates win over Maurico Rua at UFC Fight Night in Boston in August 2013
Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Chael Sonnen, former University of Oregon wrestler and long-time mixed martial arts star, announced his retirement from MMA Wednesday after failing a pre-fight drug test, according to multiple media reports.

“The former UFC two-division title contender, who also serves as an analyst for Fox Sports 1 and hosts ‘UFC Tonight’, announced his retirement during Wednesday’s edition of ‘UFC Tonight’,” reported.

On Tuesday Sonnen, 37, was forced to withdraw from a UFC 175 match with Vitor Belfort after the Nevada Athletic Commission confirmed that he had tested positive for two banned substances. “The MMA fighter was found to have anti-estrogen medications anastrozole and clomiphene in his system, drugs banned in the sport by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Sonnen said he had a legitimate medical needs for the substances,” according to Sports Illustrated.

Anastrozole, sold under the brand name Arimidex, is “for post-menopausal women with HR+ breast cancer,” according to AstraZeneca, maker of the drug.

Clomiphene, sold under the brand names Clomid and Serophene, is also marketed to women, and “can help you conceive if you ovulate irregularly or not at all, particularly if you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS),” reports the website

“I want to stay within the rules, and I don’t fully understand them,” Sonnen told MMA website “I have to put my health first. I have to put my family first. If I know what I know now, and I know that this is going to work, and I’m going to be able to get my wife pregnant and look forward to having a family, I am going to do the exact same thing 20 more times. Which is going to put me out of compliance 20 more times. So let’s just stop with that – let me just remove myself. There is going to be a day where I am no longer going to have the title of fighter. That’s just a reality. But I don’t ever want there to be a day where I don’t have the ability to have the title as parent and father and husband. My health has got to come first.”

Sonnen launched his MMA career in May 1997 while still a wrestler at the now-defunct University of Oregon mat program. As a Duck, Sonnen was a two-time Pac-10 conference runner-up at 197 pounds in 1999 and 2001. The Oregon native earned All-American honors at the 1998 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships by placing eighth in the 190-pound bracket. Sonnen also was a silver medalist at the 2000 Greco-Roman World University Championships, as well as a two-time Dave Schultz Memorial International Greco-Roman winner.

After completing his amateur wrestling career, Sonnen returned to pro MMA competition in 2002, usually competing as a middleweight or light-heavyweight. He made his debut in Ultimate Fighting Championships in 2005, and had a non-stop run of fights with UFC spanning from 2009 until his most recent match, a first-round TKO loss to Rashad Evans at UFC 167 last November. Sonnen’s name was at the top of the card in a handful of UFC events during his tenure with the organization.

Sonnen completes his pro MMA career with a 28-14-1 record. Seven of those wins were by knockout, five by submission, and 16 were by decision.

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