This site has been covering the CSAC and the appeal process of Sean Sherk for quite some time. In fact, some of the bigger analytical articles we have produced involved the CSAC, Sean Sherk’s defense, Nandrolone as a steroid in MMA, and the entire process as a whole. In particular, the research that we’ve done is extensive in the capacity of how Nandrolone works, the levels that a human being can physically create, and the possibilities of an appeal being successful in any commission appeals board including the CSAC.
In stating that, Sean Sherk wasted a lot of time trying to beat this positive. The cliche phrase “I told ya so!” can be applied here in so many ways, but I’ll back it up once again with some solid thoughts from my research on this topic. Details have yet to be disclosed regarding the hearing, but I’m positive we will hear detailed accounts regarding his case. There is a striking change in the CSAC’s judgment in this case however. It actually seems like the scrutiny may have caused a more stringent take on drugs in the CSAC. Let’s look into this more.
Sherk’s argument fails
As I stated before this entire appeals process occured, 12 ng/mL is a level that has never been proven to be reached by a human. In my final statement, the conclusion was that if 12 ng/mL was an obtainable level, it is stupid of us to believe that Sean Sherk could reach this level by himself. Furthermore, research backing this claim involved the fact that the original threshold levels were set at 2 ng/mL by the World Doping Agency, but were changed to 6 ng/mL because of some false positives and other factors. It seems that the anything over a 2 ng/mL level is still tested for instability, a recent phenomenom that involves urine producing levels after it has been collected. Urine instability has even been suggested as to the reason why many athletes have tested positive in international testing. Could that have been a problem with Sherk’s sample? It’s doubtful considering the increase in ng/mL levels from that type of instability is very small.
Also, Fightlinker and myself ran a statistic regarding Olympic laboratories testing Nagano athletes. Out of 621 competitors, only five competitors tested above .1 ng/mL. A tenth. Furthermore, all five were women, and women produce nandrolone naturally at higher levels than men due to a different hormonal make-up and use of birth control. Noone exceeded .4 ng/mL. Out of 620 athletes who train hard in the respective sports, nobody even reached .5 ng/mL. This was most likely some of the reasons as to why it was ridiculous to consider a defense that suggested he produced it naturally. It was also the basis for suggesting Dana White’s comments regarding Nandrolone as absolutely absurd.
From the argument Sherk seemed to be pushing at his previous hearing, he was going to try to either discredit the sample testing or prove that his supplement contained steroids without his knowledge. That type of argument also has pitfalls that his defense must have forseen, but it looks like they continued anyways. First and foremost, the IOC and WADA both state that athletes are warned that about roughly 15% of supplements that are over the counter contained banned substances. In my further research, it was found the number is closer to 20% in the United States, and in other countries such as the Netherlands, it’s over 25%. The warnings by both organizations were to tell fighters that they should refrain from using such supplements or testing those supplements to rid any doubt that the fighter was using performance-enhancing drugs.
Secondly, what if Sherk did find a supplement that he was taking that did have Nandrolone in it? He was still enhanced for his bout. This is a point that could be argued, but the fact is, commissions state that fighters should test their supplements for a reason. Problem was, Sherk found that one of his supplements contained a steroid, but it was nandrolone. He also didn’t test positive for that steroid anyways, so the fact that it contained a steroid probably didn’t hold much water.
Thirdly, Sherk stated that he took a polygraph test to indicate his innocence. This somewhat hits on my second point in that he may have unknowingly took the steroids, but he tested positive, was enhanced by those steroids, and did, in fact, not test his supplements previously. Furthermore, polygraph tests aren’t 100% accurate, and there are claims that they are only about 80% accurate. There is a reason that many courts do not allow their submission.
Lastly, the combination of all this research should have indicated to the fighter that it is next to impossible to clear your name, which is unfortunate if you seriously did not take steroids. If he had found a supplement containing traces of nandrolone that could have proven without a reasonable doubt that they could produce levels at 12 ng/mL, throw the case out. Fact is, nothing was found and Sherk did enough to garner a reduced suspension for his efforts. Problem is, Sherk is still labeled as a guy who “juiced” and to be honest, the levels in his system indicate cycling steroids more so than any other reason. Face it, 12 ng/mL is ridiculously over the limit, it’s absurd to believe it was obtainable by cutting weight, and working out “real hard”. Luckily, that argument was thrown out and hopefully Orlando Salido’s case was looked at to determine how that decision would have went. Salido tried to use that argument for testing at 7 ng/mL and failed horribly.
So what are you trying to say?
I told you so, Sean Sherk. Research doesn’t lie and the CSAC’s basis for their argument against you is going to be nothing but research, just like a lawyer prosecuting a defendant. It’s unfortunate if you didn’t take steroids, I get that, but I think it would have been more beneficial had you went in way back in September and just cussed out Giza like James Toney did. Obviously all the money sunk into testing supplements and building a case did nothing but reduce it, which isn’t all that bad considering you only have a small amount of time before you can mount a comeback.
My last point is that the CSAC is still being idiotic in their process. What the hell is a reduced suspension anyways when the basis for the suspension was that the fighter injected steroids? Let me ask this more important question. Is reducing a suspension simplying a pat on the back for actually presenting evidence and trying to clear your name in a case that was ultimately going to be upheld regardless of the evidence? The CSAC has major problems. They are stating that in fact Sherk did inject steroids, but hey, since we thought he put in a lot of effort and he threw a lot of money at testing supplements, we’ll reduce his sentence so he can keep on living. Give me a break. The CSAC failed once again in fixing their disciplinary problems.
Sherk came out ahead a bit. He did get a reduction, a significant one. He can fight in January, but he will remain a “juicer” in the eyes of many fans, although the UFC won’t be mentioning it in any of their broadcasts. I will give you credit where credit is due. At least you went in front of the board with evidence trying to disprove the test instead of wasting time arguing with the board like so many others have done. Other than that, it’s going to be haunting to hear the “cycling” term brought up at every fight you have and people calling you a “juicer”.
Either way, the lightweight picture looks to be finalized for now and we can move on. Keith Kizer stated it best in that if a fighter tests positive, he still had an advantage over a fighter regardless if he knew he was taking the drug or not. It’s very true, that’s why they have warnings. The warnings were unfortunately swept to the side when determining an argument, or there was some cycling going on. Either way, I told ya so.