(“Lift these ten-pound dumbbells for just 20 minutes a day, and all your friends will think you’re on steroids — guaranteed.” / Props: GSP RUSHFIT)
In July, UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre called out his UFC 167 opponent Johny Hendricks to undergo random, unannounced drug-testing with him through the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA), during the eight weeks before their fight. Though Hendricks’s initial response was “Heck ya!“, we didn’t hear a peep about GSP’s new anti-doping campaign/publicity stunt — until reports came out last week that Hendricks still hadn’t filed his paperwork.
According to a new report on MMAJunkie, St. Pierre will indeed go forward with enhanced drug testing conducted by VADA and will be tested by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, while Hendricks will only participate in the NSAC’s testing. Hendricks’s apparent refusal to cooperate with the VADA program raised our suspicions at first, but it turns out there’s another side to the story, and it’s one that paints the champ in an unflattering light.
St. Pierre and Hendricks’s gentlemen’s agreement about additional drug-testing began to fall apart when Hendricks’s manager Ted Ehrhardt discovered that VADA would be paying for GSP’s testing, contradicting St. Pierre’s initial claim that he would be paying for the testing of both fighters out of his own pocket. (“Hendricks’ camp balked at the idea of their opponent partnering with a drug testing body that was supposed to be independent, and they favored the WADA program,” writes Junkie.)
A conference call was arranged to sort it out, and that’s when things got complicated:
The UFC set up the call with the fighters’ managers, trainer Firas Zahabi, UFC officials and [NSAC Executive Director Keith] Kizer on the basis that St-Pierre said he would pay for additional screening, Kizer said. The promotion had approached the NSAC about the program after hearing the commission would use it in advance of a WBO title bout between welterweight champ Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez on Oct. 12 in Las Vegas, Kizer said.
The program, which was detailed by the NSAC during the call, is run by a WADA-accredited lab in Salt Lake City. The NSAC currently employs out-of-competition testing, but the new lab moves closer to what Kizer calls “enhanced drug testing,” or what many say is Olympic-style testing.
In Bradley and Marquez’s case, promoter Top Rank agreed to pay the costs associated with random tests and have the results forwarded to the NSAC. In St-Pierre and Hendricks’ case, however, it was undecided who would foot the bill on the WADA program, which the commission doesn’t cover, Kizer said.
The two sides split on who would pay for the testing. St-Pierre’s camp expressed a preference to use VADA, which they said had agreed to partially pay for costs, according to Kizer…When informed of the WADA program’s cost, St-Pierre’s camp said they preferred to use VADA.
“I made it quite clear that if you guys want to do additional testing on your own, that’s fine,” Kizer said. “But if you’re serious about it and you’re not looking to hire someone yourself to do it, I said, ‘This is how you do it. We’re happy to help you help us, but that’s a decision you need to make because you need to fund it.’”
Kizer, however, also was concerned when St-Pierre’s reps asked questions about the list of substances the WADA program tests for, in addition to when the drug tests would be conducted and who would conduct them.
“They were asking, ‘Well, what do you test for?’ My answer is always the same: We test for prohibited substances as listed on the WADA list,” Kizer said. “(They said), ‘Well, what does that mean? Does that mean HGH, does that mean this, does that mean that?’ Yes, it means it all. The answer then should have been, ‘OK.’”
After more discussion, St-Pierre’s rep, whom Kizer identified as the fighter’s lawyer, Rodolphe Beaulieu, stood firm on using VADA.
“OK, fine, use VADA,” Kizer said of his response. “That’s not the question. The question is do you want to do outside testing through the athletic commission? And basically, they said we want to know all the tests you do so Georges’ medical advisors can vet the test first before we decide.
“I said, ‘I will take that as a no. We will let you know if we’re going to do any testing on our own. Goodbye.’”
Kizer said Beaulieu then tried to backtrack by saying St-Pierre wasn’t opposed to the WADA program.
“The guy actually had the gall – this Rodolphe guy – (to say), ‘Well, no, that’s not what we meant. We’re happy to do it once we get this additional information, but I’m going to be gone for the next seven days, and I’m unavailable via cell phone or email.’ It’s like, whatever dude. It was so ridiculous. But I don’t hold any of that against Georges St-Pierre. As far as I know, he doesn’t even know about these things…
“I don’t know if it’s just his people being overly aggressive, or trying to act as agents of VADA – I have no clue, and I don’t care,” Kizer said. “But when an athlete’s representative is basically saying, ‘Well, he’s interested in perhaps doing enhanced testing, but we need to know – and more importantly, his medical advisors need to know – all the ins and outs of the testing before he’ll agree to it,’ that’s a no. That’s a refusal, and that’s fine.
“Fighters are able to do this testing (from VADA). But I’m not looking to being used in this pissing match with these athletes saying, ‘I’m going to do this enhanced testing. If my opponent doesn’t, that means he’s dirty.’ No, it doesn’t. If they want to play those games, that’s between them. I’m not going to take any sides. Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks have both been great licensees in the past. I expect them to be great licensees in the future. But they definitely both will be tested by the commission. How often, and when, is up to us.”
Talk about losing control of a story. For once in his career, George St. Pierre was going to be the guy implying that his opponent might be using PEDs, instead of the guy who’s constantly fielding those accusations himself. But now, the agreement is off because his lawyer needed to know exactly which substances would be tested for. (To say nothing about the weird backtracking on his offer to pay for the whole thing. Jeez dude, check out the price list beforehand.)
St. Pierre’s intention to pursue VADA testing was done with the express purpose to battle the perception — mostly held by his opponents — that he’s a possible drug cheat. But now, this story will only give more credence to the idea that GSP has something to hide.