LOS ANGELES -- The California State Athletic Commission suspended UFC middleweight title contender Chael Sonnen for one year on Wednesday after revealing he tested positive for steroids following a loss to Anderson Silva last month in Oakland.
CSAC executive officer George Dodd said Sonnen's drug test revealed an abnormally high testosterone-to-estrogen level, an indicator of steroid use. A second test showed similar results.
"The use of anabolic steroids and other banned substances are not tolerated by the commission," Dodd said. "Anabolic agents put the health and safety of both the user and his opponents at risk."
The suspension casts a pall on memories of perhaps the UFC's most exciting fight of the year to date. Sonnen was a trash-talking underdog who improbably controlled the first four rounds of his fight against Silva, but lost to the long-reigning middleweight champion on a dramatic fifth-round choke at UFC 117 in Oakland's Oracle Arena.
The suspension squashes the UFC's plans to match Sonnen against Silva in a rematch early next year. Steroid-related suspensions in mixed martial arts and boxing typically are honored by other states' athletic commissions, and the UFC won't schedule suspended fighters for new bouts.
Sonnen is expected to appeal the ruling within 30 days, but can't receive a hearing on his appeal until Dec. 2 in Sacramento. Sonnen hasn't commented publicly on the suspension, and his management team didn't immediately return phone calls.
UFC president Dana White wrote on Twitter that Silva's next fight will be against Vitor Belfort, the Brazilian former light heavyweight champion. Belfort was scheduled to fight Yushin Okami at UFC 122 on Nov. 13 in Germany, but will meet Silva instead -- likely at UFC 125 in Las Vegas on Jan. 1.
Nate Marquardt will replace Belfort in the main event at UFC 122 against Okami, White said.