Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre recently said, in part, he vacated his belt and stepped away from fighting because there wasn’t enough effort being put into strenuous drug testing for performance-enhancing substances in mixed martial arts, apparently putting much of the blame on his former employers.
“It bothered me greatly, [and] it was one of the reasons I decided to step aside,” he said in the Canadian Press.
UFC president Dana White hadn’t said much publicly about St-Pierre’s comments until Wednesday night, and then he unloaded, seemingly befuddled by the remarks coming from his former champion.
“[It] obviously shocked when he came out and said this,” said White in a post-fight interview on Fox Sports Live. “First of all, if everybody remembers, when Georges St-Pierre said that he wanted to come out and do this extra drug testing, it was so he could prove he wasn't on drugs.
“He didn't come out and say, hey, I want to do extra drug testing because I think that Johnny Hendricks is on drugs. Everybody's been saying that they think that Georges St-Pierre's been on it for years, so he wanted to prove that he wasn't.”
St-Pierre had proposed that he and Hendricks, beyond the usual athletic commission required drug testing, undergo additional screening by VADA (the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency). Hendricks countered with WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency). In the end, they wound up in a stalemate resembling that of boxers Floyd Mayther-Manny Pacquiao, and undergoing the usual testing required by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
“It's just like in boxing. They sit down and one says, I want to use this company, and then the other guy's like, I don't want to use that company. I want to use this one,” recounted White. “That's exactly what went down with the Georges St-Pierre case.
“There's never going to be a situation where the athletic commission isn't involved, and the athletic commission was involved in this whole thing, tried to make it happen, and at the end of the day Georges St-Pierre ended up not doing it.”
At the time that all played, White called it ridiculous, believing that the athletic commission’s testing was sufficient. He says he never tried to stop St-Pierre from undergoing additional testing if that was what he wanted to do.
“I came out and said the thing was ridiculous,” said White. “You're never going to get two guys that are fighting each other to agree on what drug testing they're going to do.”
St-Pierre, however, seemed to think more should have been done to support this efforts to make a change in drug testing in MMA.
“I tried to change things, and unfortunately, maybe for money reasons, maybe for image, they were not ready to do that,” said St-Pierre. “I tried to [bring about] change in a very diplomatic way and it didn’t work so it’s unfortunate, but I believe it will happen sooner or later.”
White believes that plenty is being done, and that fighters that use performance enhancers are going to get caught; maybe not the first time, maybe not the second time, but they are going to get caught.
“If you are using performance enhancing drugs in the UFC, these guys get caught,” he stated. “Maybe you're slick and maybe you made it past a couple of [tests]… for instance, maybe you fought in one of these athletic commissions where they only test the main event or they test the co-main and main event. Then you show up at one of these international shows, people don't realize we're testing the entire card. You're gonna get caught if you're using it.”
As an example, White pointed to the recent draw between Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 33 in Australia. Nearly everyone – White leading the charge – declared it one of the greatest heavyweight fights in mixed martial arts history, only to have all the elation slip away when Silva tested positive for an elevated level of testosterone.
The result of the fight was changed to a no-contest on Silva’s record. The big man also lost a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus and was suspended for nine months.
Without a regulating body in place to handle drug testing in Brisbane, the UFC regulated itself. They tested every fighter on the card, ensnaring Silva, diminishing what would have likely been recorded as the UFC’s greatest heavyweight bout to date.
St-Pierre insinuated that he was pushing for more extensive testing because, as one of the sport’s greatest stars, he had the power to do so, where other fighters may have felt they didn’t have a voice when their employer wielded the biggest stick in the sport.
“There's one organization that has a monopoly, so the fighters don't have much power,” said St-Pierre. “They can't really talk because if one says what he thinks, he will get punished.”
White was taken aback by that statement, as well, pointing to Viacom-owned Bellator MMA as his company’s chief competition.
“Forty-billion-dollar market cap Viacom has. That's our competitor,” he declared. “We're never going to see $40 billion ever. Our competitor has a $40-billion market cap.
“There's a lot of other organizations out there where guys can go,” he continued. “Are we the best? Yes, we're the best. You can be mad at us because we're the best, but it's far from a monopoly.”
White wasn’t done there. Although talk of St-Pierre settled, unprovoked by further questioning, White had more to say, accusing St-Pierre of ironically doing to other UFC fighters, what St-Pierre claimed has bothered him for the duration of his career.
“So Georges St-Pierre, it upset him his whole career about BJ [Penn] and other fighters claiming that he was probably on performance enhancing drugs,” said White, his engines revving into a higher gear. “And then he goes out and says something like he said the other day, which he says it now about all the guys that fought here tonight, other guys who fight in the UFC.
“The thing that has bothered him and upset him his entire career, he now just threw back on all the other guys that are fighting, which is unfair to all the guys who aren't using anything.”
White was visibly frustrated by the accusations that St-Pierre unleashed, only half-joking that the former champ was doing more interviews now that he is supposedly trying to lay low than he did when he was promoting his fights.
“If Georges felt that way, he should have said it to our faces,” said White. “He should have said it to my face. I'm not very sensitive. You're not gonna hurt my feelings.”
- Martial Arts
- Sports & Recreation
- drug testing
- Georges St-Pierre