Injured Sherk Haunted By Steroid Suspension

By Loretta Hunt Sep 10, 2009
Sean Sherk’s 2007 steroid suspension is always just a few steps behind him.

The former UFC lightweight champion was reminded of that last week when he withdrew with a shoulder injury from his bout against Gleison Tibau at UFC 104 on Oct. 24 in Los Angeles.

Sherk’s injury was scrutinized, however, when it was reported that he had been scheduled to take a drug test with the California State Athletic Commission required for his re-licensure that same week.

The injury is painfully real, according to medical documents received by Sherdog.com.

Sherk suffered a “Grade II AC separation” in his right shoulder, according to an MRI report prepared by the Center for Diagnostic Imaging in St. Louis Park, Minn.

Click here to read Sherk's MRI report.

University of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford sustained a similar injury last week and will sit out at least two weeks to a month’s worth of play. Sherk, who still can’t lift his arm 10 days after the accident, hopes to resume training in a couple of weeks as well.


Sean Sherk MRI video.
Neither athlete will need surgery, though Sherk said he is disturbed by assumptions made about his situation that aim to damage his reputation.

“I’m not dodging a drug test,” Sherk told Sherdog.com Monday. “I just took a drug test three months ago. I know I’m going to get drug tested. I’ve been drug tested probably more than any other fighter in the world.”

Reports also claimed that Sherk had “skipped out” on a flight to Los Angeles to meet with an CSAC inspector on Sept. 2, the day his withdrawal was first reported.

According to Sherk and his manager Monte Cox, neither ever received a flight itinerary for the fighter to travel to Los Angeles, though they had been alerted and Sherk had agreed to fly from Minnesota to Los Angeles to make the required testing prior to his injury.

However, Sherk separated his shoulder on Aug. 28 training with 195-pound Iowa wrestler Paul Bradley, after the fighter landed directly on his right side in a scramble. It was the same shoulder Sherk had gotten surgery for two years ago.

Cox notified the UFC on Aug. 29 that the 36-year-old wrestler would not be rehabilitated in enough time to train properly for the bout. The manager and his fighter also debated if Sherk should still travel to Los Angeles and submit his sample, but Cox advised him not to. Sherk said he suspected he’d be targeted for not taking the test.

“It’s so frustrating,” said Sherk, who has vehemently denied taking any illegal drugs since 2007. “I feel like I’ve done so much to prove that I haven’t done anything wrong. Even with my case –- I went above and beyond to try to prove that I didn’t take anything.”

In December 2007, Sherk appealed the CSAC’s findings that he’d taken the steroid Nanadrolone. Sherk’s suspension was halved to six months after inconsistencies in the state agency’s protocol were highlighted during the hearing.

Sherk said he also submitted to and passed three polygraph tests to prove his innocence and is still unsure what caused the positive test.

“We did find testosterone boosters in one of my supplements, and I don’t know for sure if that is what did it,” said Sherk. “I didn’t pursue it. I really don’t know.”

The suspension cost Sherk $2,500 and his UFC title, but the father of two said his fanbase took the biggest hit.

“There’s still people yelling obscenities when I walk out for my fights,” said Sherk, who made an unsuccessful bid to reclaim the title from B.J. Penn at UFC 84 in May 2008. “That’s why I wear headphones.”

Sherk said he’d never fight in California again directly following his hearing, but said he relented with the Oct. 24 card because he wanted to stay more active.

“I knew they got the new commissioners and things have changed from the way they used to run stuff and that I wasn’t going to get pin-pointed with anything extra, which I don’t think I was,” said Sherk.

The CSAC has requested other previously disciplined fighters, like Josh Barnett and Nick Diaz, report to a specific California facility for testing.

Sherk said he’s been randomly tested seven times by multiple state commissions in the last 15 months and that’s he’s prepared to be consistently flagged.

The ordeal also encouraged the muscular lightweight to better monitor what he puts in his body.

Sherk previously took about 23 supplements daily, from vitamins to creatines and glutamines to fish oils, but narrowed it down to about 12 following the suspension.

“I was under the impression that more is better, which isn’t the case,” said Sherk. “I knew nothing about contamination. I didn’t know they sold banned substances at nutrition stores. It was a huge learning process for me. It was a terrible process to have to go through, but I did learn something from it.”

Editor's Note: This article was updated on Sept. 10 at 4:50 p.m. EST. In an earlier version, this article incorrectly named Paul Bradley as an Iowa state wrestler. Bradley wrestled for the University of Iowa.
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