GSP begins VADA drug testing

Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks are two fighters on the
same page yet can’t seem to agree. Both the UFC welterweight
champion and No. 1 contender have stated an intention to help clean
up the sport’s reputation by proving they are clean, yet
through misunderstandings and incomprehension, they remain at odds
over just how to do it.

This all began in July when St-Pierre, on his own dime, invited
Hendricks to participate in testing with VADA, the Voluntary
Anti-Doping Association, a non-profit Nevada-based group that has
made inroads mostly in boxing. In 2012, however, both B.J. Penn and
Rory MacDonald enrolled in VADA and passed all their tests prior to
meeting in the octagon. Through media interviews at the time,
Hendricks initially agreed.

St-Pierre’s participation, however, would make him the
biggest MMA name to take part in VADA, and it seems as if over
time, that has drawn some red flags from Hendricks’ side,
which has suggested that the relationship between VADA and GSP may
not be on the up and up.

Their evidence? Two things. For one, his manager Ted Ehrhardt
claimed that he’d discovered VADA is paying for
St-Pierre’s test. For the other, there was a picture of
St-Pierre on the VADA website. Using that as their ammunition,
Hendricks called the situation “a little suspect” and
believes it denotes favoritism towards the champion.

Hendricks is of course free to feel however he likes, but at
least part of his belief system regarding the St-Pierre/VADA link
is untrue, VADA president and board chairman Dr. Margaret Goodman
told FOX Sports on Tuesday.

“We have had no relationship with GSP other than his
contacting us to test both fighters and explain our program in
great detail,” said Goodman.

Goodman, a neurologist and former Nevada state athletic
commission chief ringside physician, also told FOX Sports that VADA
never offered to test either fighter for free, that
St-Pierre’s camp offered to pay for both fighters, and that
Hendricks, too, would have appeared on the site if he joined the
program, the same way all participating fighters have in the
past.

The confusion between the two sides may stem from the early days
of exploring the possibility of using VADA. According to Goodman,
on July 2 — more than four months prior to their UFC 167 bout
— St-Pierre’s trainer Firas Zahabi originally contacted
the organization to ask for price quotes on the testing.

Because program costs depend on the length of the program and
location of the fighters, Goodman quoted him the price of $10,000
per fighter. Since St-Pierre was to be paying for both himself and
the challenger, it would have cost him $20,000 total. However, at
the time, the organization, which has helped to fund testing in the
past, offered to subsidize $2,500 per each fighter, so it would
have cost GSP $15,000 total, or $7,500 per fighter. However,
Goodman said, weeks passed without applications from either
St-Pierre or Hendricks.

During that time, the sides also spoke with the Nevada state
athletic commission, which will regulate the Las Vegas event, about
adding additional random testing. Hendricks, feeling uncomfortable
with the VADA proposal, said he wanted to be tested by WADA, the
World Anti-Doping Agency. That, however, is impossible. WADA does
not test athletes; they monitor the fight against drugs in sport
through policy but they do not test. Instead, they accredit labs to
carry out testing to their rigid standards and procedures. Now
here’s the rub: VADA does not do testing either. They use the
same WADA-approved labs as Hendricks is asking for.

So whether St-Pierre and Hendricks were being tested through
VADA or the additional out-of-testing, NSAC program, their samples
were going to end up in the same place: a WADA-accredited lab. VADA
never touches the sample; it is only a facilitator.

On Aug. 29, St-Pierre quietly applied for VADA testing. Because
the time scope had changed from the original early July estimate,
the cost was adjusted to $8,000. According to Goodman, VADA no
longer had the funds to subsidize the program, so St-Pierre paid
the entire fee for himself. He will be tested randomly and
periodically for the next months. Despite his original agreement,
Hendricks, however, never applied, choosing to stick solely with
NSAC testing.

“We are happy that Mr. Hendricks is so vocal for clean
sport and of course, wish him the best,” Goodman said.
“VADA is voluntary, and we believe no inference should be
made if a fighter doesn’t wish to participate.”