The UFC’s Drug Testing Policies Played A Role In GSP Quitting

In December of last year, long reigning UFC welterweight champion and pay-per-view golden boy, Georges St. Pierre, vacated the belt that he had held for five years and amidst great speculation as to why.

Fans and detractors alike had their theories, but they were just that, theories. As “Rush” himself gave no definitive reason for the unexpected departure, conjecture and supposition for the reasoning of his decision became the order of the day.

Some put St. Pierre’s decision down to burnout, while others put it down to his UFC 167 fight with Johny Hendricks and the damage that he took in the match. Beyond that, there were rumors of legal issues and family problems. Of all the hunches and hypothesis that were bandied about, these four were probably the most common.

However and as it turns out, it appears that GSP’s desire to have stricter drug testing in the UFC may have been at the center of all of it.

Speaking at an open scrum in Montreal today, Rush let loose with some uncharacteristically acerbic remarks about his former employer.

When a reporter revisited the subject of George’s pre-UFC 167 drug testing stance and the fact that Rush had wanted to use the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) to test himself and Johny Hendricks prior to their bout, but failed to get the UFC’s support on the issue, the question appeared to hit a nerve with the former champion.

St. Pierre stated in October of last year that he felt “very disappointed” in the support that the UFC had given him on the subject of drug testing and today, fans are finding out that the promotion’s resistance on the matter had a great deal to do with his decision to leave the sport.  

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The champ fleshed it out as such:

“It bothered me enormously. That’s one of the reasons why I stopped fighting. Not really to teach them a lesson, because that would also punish me. I wanted to do something for the sport. I love the sport. I see the direction it’s going, and I don’t think it makes any sense. This is stupid.”

I tried to do something to change the sport. Unfortunately, there were other people, for different reasons, maybe for money, in fear of losing money, because if you canceled the fight because someone tested positive there are millions of dollars (lost). Also, the sport’s image…If you start testing everyone, how many will get caught? I don’t want to say in public, because I don’t want to accuse anyone, but the sport’s image will be hurt.

Don’t forget, I have internal information. I’m an athlete. I know what goes on, so that disappointed me greatly.”

The only thing I want to say is I wanted to do something to help those who are honest in the sport. Believe me or not, I never took drugs in my life. I’ll take a lie detector test, I don’t care. I’m for anti-doping tests. I think it’s a big problem in the sport.

This is a relatively new sport. There’s one organization that has a monopoly, so the fighters don’t have much power. They can’t really talk because if one says what he thinks, he will get punished.

If we want the sport to be accepted worldwide, like baseball, hockey, football, soccer, I believe (drug testing) is the thing to do. I think it’s just a matter of time before it happens; it’s just that I tried to make it happen now. Maybe they didn’t like the idea because if I did it now, it would lead to others doing it and maybe that’s not something they wanted to happen.

It disappointed me. You know that there are things I can’t say. I’m holding back. I’m a public person.

No wants to talk about (drugs in MMA), but I think we need to talk about it. It’s a problem.

I wanted to remain diplomatic, but unfortunately there were people who weren’t ready to change things. I’m certain it’s a question of time. And maybe if things change one day, I’ll return.”

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSOsuwKiprdGTRoMfQr21D9hnoW2DnrOg1qXw3t1oWMer 96GyvIn terms of St. Pierre’s passion on the subject of drug testing, most fans will probably acknowledge that they had no idea the champ felt so strongly about it. Regardless, what it tells them is that Rush made a principled decision when he left and one that might be irrevocable. Which is to say, that if something doesn’t change on the subject of drug testing and to Rush’s satisfaction, he’s likely to never come back.

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As to all of the particulars of his remarks, fans may or may not agree.

Yes, Rush called the UFC a monopoly, but the fact of the matter is that it’s not; certainly not by a clinical definition. True, they are the largest and most powerful promotion in the sport, but they are not the only option open to fighters. And yes, fighters may well live in fear of being “punished” if they speak against the UFC policies, but this is no different than the fear every employee has when speaking negatively about an employer’s guidelines or protocols. In short, this is a commonly shared and universal work experience.

In terms of drug testing being the key to the UFC’s / MMA’s worldwide acceptance and in the same way that other major sports have been globally embraced, the facts don’t match the statement. Every sport we could name has had significant issues with performance enhancing drugs and considerably more problems with illicit drugs. In comparison to sports like football and baseball, the UFC or MMA in general, is but a mere babe in the woods of doping transgressions.

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As an ancillary note, many fans might also point out that the UFC and MMA have already been embraced globally and are becoming more so by the year; certainly more than any of the big four are and that’s without the vast network support that the other sports enjoy.

In conclusion, many fans, certainly a good number of the purists, will agree with Rush and his position on testing; that he thinks drugs are bad for the sport and need to be rigorously tested for. Further, many will applaud him and say ‘good for you champ’; he took a stand. However, if his stand on testing was the singular reason for his departure and nothing changes on the UFC’s end to assuage Rush’s concerns, then fans could well have seen the last of Georges in the Octagon and to his throngs of fans, it would dash all hope of his triumphant return; something many have / had begun to think likely. 

It should be interesting to see how the UFC’s president responds to Rush’s statements. As fans know, Dana White is not one to hold back when poked. However and of course, this time he’s being poked by his biggest PPV cash cow and as such, perhaps it will garner a more tempered response.    

Translation of GSP’s remarks via MMAfighting.com

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