Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

On Monday, the UFC and Fox Sports cut ties with former three-time UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen following his second failed pre-fight drug test from the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC).

The move sparked outrage from Sonnen apologists who had fallen in love with the 37-year-old’s over-the-top antics, but the reality of the situation is that the UFC and Fox had no choice.

Both organizations had stood behind Sonnen after his initial test failure for Anastrozole and Clomiphene, even backing up Sonnen’s claims that he needed both drugs as part of coming off the recently banned testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT) and to help with fertility issues.

While Sonnen’s first failed test initially only drew a temporary suspension from the NSAC, the Oregon native opted for retirement from competition. At the time, few suspected that the move was simply a precursor to the second failed test—this time for human growth hormone (HGH) and recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO).

Despite Sonnen’s initial assertions that both test failures were part of his transition off of TRT, his claims are unfounded and, to be blunt, pure hypocrisy. The use of HGH and EPO are the very definition of performance-enhancing drugs. The combination was made famous by disgraced Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, a man that Sonnen once claimed “cheated, did drugs, and gave himself cancer.

Sonnen’s current string of failed tests, coupled with his past issues with test failures, put both the UFC and Fox in a tough position. Although both companies loved what Sonnen brought to UFC Tonight as an analyst, they simply could not continue to stand behind a man who consistently broke the rules, who spewed excuse after excuse on television and who tainted the images of both companies.

For most, Sonnen’s legacy will be tied to his ability to sell fights. Given the recent events, one can’t help but call into question the success he found inside the cage during his career. Was he ever clean? Would he have ever challenged for UFC gold without PEDs? More importantly, perhaps, how many of his colleagues are doing the same thing?

Many will argue that the UFC has stood behind other athletes with similar histories, such as Vitor Belfort—Sonnen’s planned opponent at UFC 175—and Josh Barnett. And you know what? They’re right. The UFC isn’t absolved from blame in this situation. If the promotion were truly dedicated to eliminating PED users from the Octagon, it could have cut ties with Sonnen after his failed test at UFC 117 in 2010. Or it wouldn’t have allowed its athletes to obtain therapeutic-use exemptions for TRT for years before it was banned in early 2014.

But Sonnen was a cash cow for the promotion. His constant trash talk sold pay-per-views and brought ratings to The Ultimate Fighter and UFC Tonight. Why else would the promotion have pitted him against light heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 159 when Sonnen was coming off a lopsided loss to Anderson Silva? It was only concerned with the bottom line. It’s the same reason that the aforementioned Belfort and Barnett, amongst others on the UFC roster, are still under contract with organization.

Now, at Sonnen’s expense, the UFC and Fox are making an example of him. Sonnen’s persona made him a recognizable figure for the sport and both companies. Refusing to take action would’ve left the UFC looking more like the wild, wild west than a legitimate sports entity. Although the UFC is in the entertainment business first, it is trying to save face and maintain some level of integrity. Unfortunately for Sonnen, his actions were a step too far and he’s the scapegoat for the promotion’s past mistakes of sitting on the sidelines during PED situations.

Certainly the UFC owns part of the blame in Sonnen’s recent fiasco, but the promotion didn’t make Sonnen cheat. It didn’t administer his TRT beginning in 2010. It didn’t force him to take Anastrozole and Clomiphene. And the UFC certainly didn’t provide him with HGH and EPO. Whether the promotion sat idly by on PED use is ultimately irrelevant because only Sonnen controlled what he put in his body.

Sonnen is not the victim in this situation. He may have been left without a job, but it was a direct result of the choices he made. For the sake of the sport, let’s hope that Sonnen’s fall from grace serves as a deterrent for other PED users. And if not, he may be just be the first of many to have his world come crashing down around him.

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