GSP calls UFC ‘a monopoly’, unsupportive in cleaning up PED abuse

The former UFC welterweight champion opened up on one of the reasons he walked away from the Octagon, saying he was bothered "enormously" by the promotion failing to back him in his quest to rid the sport of performance-enhancing drugs.

JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

One month ago, Georges St-Pierre announced a hiatus from mixed martial arts, citing burnout due to pressure as well as personal issues as the cause. On Tuesday, he added another reason for his break, telling the media during an appearance in Montreal that a lack of support from the UFC in his efforts to clean up the sport also weighed on his mind in stepping away.

“It bothered me enormously,” he said in French. “That’s one of the reasons I stopped fighting.”

In September, during a live Google Hangout with FOX Sports, UFC president Dana White said he thought St-Pierre and his UFC 167 opponent Johny Hendricks “looked stupid” for publicly jockeying over extra drug testing.

At one point, St-Pierre offered to pay for both to use the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association as an independent testing body, but Hendricks refused, saying he wanted to use the World Anti-Doping Agency, which sets international testing standards but does not actually conduct tests.

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.

--Georges St-Pierre

St-Pierre went on to participate in the VADA program by himself and passed all the tests while Hendricks took the standard Nevada athletic commission tests and also passed.

“I tried to change things, and unfortunately, maybe for money reasons or for the image, maybe we’re not ready to do that,” St-Pierre said. “Or maybe there’s a fear that everybody is going to want to be tested because a lot of people might be on drugs so the honest people want to have a fair fight. I tried to do change in a very diplomatic way. It didn’t work so it’s unfortunate but I believe it will happen sooner or later.”

Perhaps that impact is already being felt. Recently, the UFC participated in extra drug testing, paying around $20,000 for Nevada to test both Josh Barnett and Travis Browne out of competition, and through both urine and blood.

The 32-year-old St-Pierre vacated the welterweight champion after a divisional record nine straight title defenses to go with an 11-fight win streak.

"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."–Georges St-Pierre

St-Pierre said he had no firm plans on returning and inferred that things might have to change in the drug testing of the sport in order for him to return. When pushed for clarification, St-Pierre said that would not necessarily be the case, but that he believes change will gradually occur.

St-Pierre did not explicitly mention any of these feelings during the conference call in which he announced his intentions to take a break from the sport, but said that people could read between the lines of his words.

During that same conference call, UFC president Dana White was asked if St-Pierre ever mentioned the issue to him, and White responded no.

On Tuesday, St-Pierre made his grievance public, making it clear that it did play at least a secondary role in his decision to abdicate his throne.

"The only thing I want to say is that I wanted to do something to help those who are honest in the sport,” he said. “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.

Maybe Georges didn’t understand the level of drug testing Nevada was doing. They are the ultimate authority that handles drug testing, medicals and everything else — and they are very capable.

--UFC CEO and co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta

"This is a relatively new sport,” he continued. “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."

UFC CEO and co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta told ESPN.com on Tuesday that he was "shocked" by St-Pierre’s remarks. "We’ve made it clear, through presentations at various athletic commissions, that we advocate for the most rigorous drug testing possible," Fertitta said. "We’ve actually advocated for harsher penalties for PEDs.

"Maybe Georges didn’t understand the level of drug testing Nevada was doing. They are the ultimate authority that handles drug testing, medicals and everything else — and they are very capable."

St-Pierre, who was in Montreal to offer martial arts endowments through his Georges St-Pierre Foundation, said there was no timetable for a potential return, but that he was feeling refreshed by his time away from action, and had actually put on some muscle due to his decreased training schedule.

“I feel very good and very happy,” he said. “I had Christmas and New Year’s with my family, something I didn’t have for a long time because I was always training. I had it with my family without stress. I was able to drink, to have fun, and I really enjoyed it.”