Earlier today the California State Athletic Commission ruled on UFC lightweight champ Sean Sherk’s steroid suspension appeal, cutting the suspension time from one year to six months, but upholding the $2,500 fine. Sherk was apparently upset with the ruling, which has taken longer than usual to hand down, telling MMA Weekly after the hearing, “I’m not happy at all. This is not over.”
It’s easy to see why Sherk might be unhappy if he is, in fact, innocent, but it’s not easy to see how the CSAC came to this conclusion. Cutting the suspension time in half and upholding the fine seems to indicate that they still believe Sherk is guilty of using steroids. So why cut his suspension at all?
Perhaps the CSAC was trying to atone for their bungling of this situation thus far. Delays and disorganization in hearing the appeal made them seem amateurish early on, and it’s possible that they truly believe the shortened suspension will serve as a compromise to make everyone happy.
They are wrong.
This ruling is really the worst of both worlds. Sherk is still upset because, he insists, he never took steroids. The integrity of the sport and the seriousness of steroid testing isn’t helped any if the CSAC reduces the standard penalty on someone they believe has broken the rules. Maybe the UFC is a little happier than most with the decision, because they get Sherk back six months earlier and have a semi-plausible explanation for why he isn’t being stripped of the title.
All things considered, this may be the worst, most conflicted ruling the CSAC could have made. I don’t know if it’s a concession to the UFC, since the CSAC would no doubt like to see them continue to hold events in the Golden State, but it certainly doesn’t help clear up this hopelessly muddled case.