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Georges St-Pierre regrets penning letter in support of drug kingpin

Georges St-Pierre released a statement on Sunday expressing regret after penning a letter in support of his friend Jimmy Cournoyer, who is currently awaiting sentencing for drug trafficking, money laundering and witness tampering.

GSP staying loyal to drug kingpin friend but regrets writing open letter of support

JOEL SAGET / AFP

Last week it was revealed that former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre had written a letter in support of his friend Jimmy Cournoyer, who also happened to be a convicted drug trafficker awaiting sentencing where he will spend at minimum the next 20 years in jail.

Cournoyer was part of a drug ring running marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy from Canada and the U.S. while also working with reputed organized crime families in Montreal and New York as well as a drug cartel out of Mexico.  Cournoyer was also implicated prior to his conviction of holding a $2 million "hit fund" that, according to the New York Post, would be used to coerce or potentially a murder for hire against anyone who he and a mob associate "could quickly hire henchmen to murder snitches [informants who could potentially testify against him or his co-conspirators in court]."

Apparently in his travels and time in Montreal, Cournoyer became friends with St-Pierre in 2009, and the two became so close that they actually went on vacation together on the island of Ibiza at one point.  Following Cournoyer's conviction last year, the Canadian drug runner was awaiting sentencing and that's when St-Pierre stepped up with a letter of support for his friend.

Needless to say there was considerable backlash against St-Pierre when the letter became public, and now the former welterweight champion has taken it upon himself to offer up an apology and an explanation as to why he wrote the note in the first place.

"A letter I signed in support of my friend Jimmy Cournoyer, who has recently pleaded guilty to a number of drug traffic-related crimes in the U.S. has generated a great deal of controversy over the last few days," St-Pierre wrote in a statement released on Sunday.  "First of all, the letter I signed was a mistake -- my mistake.  I will not go into detail as to why and how the letter came about because it's not going to right a wrong.  I simply wanted to help repatriate Jimmy to a Canadian prison, closer to his family, if that was possible. 

"My friendship with Jimmy is based on our mutual passion for martial arts and going to the gym.  I was not aware of Jimmy's crimes until he was arrested by the U.S. authorities.  I do not condone any of his criminal actions.  He will and should pay for his actions.  My position against the use of drugs has been on the record for years and speaks for itself."

St-Pierre goes on to admit that he has visited Cournoyer in prison on a couple of occasions and will be there to support him when his prison sentence is over because that's what friends are supposed to do.

"I have been to visit Jimmy in Prison -- twice so far.  We also had many conversations since his arrest.  Why?  Because I believe in redemption and I believe in loyalty.  I will continue to support him -- as a friend.  In fact, if Jimmy leaves prison one day, I should be there to help him start over in a better way.

"I want to unconditionally apologize to those who have been offended by my actions.  But I often say that the wheel of life turns and turns, causing ups and downs for each of us.  I was also taught that a real friend is there to offer support at the best and the worst of times."

Cournoyer's sentencing was delayed in his most recent court appearance and he won't face a judge again until August 20.  The Canadian faces a term of 20 years to life in prison for his crimes.