Georges St-Pierre’s drug-testing reform demands are right on, but a little late
Georges St-Pierre is right.
Nothing about what GSP has said about the UFC, the state commissions and drug testing is inaccurate. The former welterweight champion is on the money. The system, as St-Pierre adamantly said Monday on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, is broken.
The UFC needs random drug testing. And St-Pierre has been the most vocal former fighter about the important cause. But therein lies the problem — the word "former."
Where was all this indignation when St-Pierre was still in the UFC, when he was still a champion and the promotion’s biggest draw?
Yes, GSP has spoken about performance-enhancing drugs before and wanted Johny Hendricks to do VADA testing before their fight in November. St-Pierre has also been accused as a steroid user by the likes of Nick Diaz and B.J. Penn. It’s clear he wants to clear his name, but St-Pierre hasn’t come close to this level of outspokenness about the issue as he is now. On Monday, he was almost shouting at Helwani.
If you get caught on steroids right now, it’s because you’re very disorganized. It’s ridiculous
GSP had the most leverage anyone in the history of the UFC has ever had. He could have absolutely demanded random drug testing for his fights. Think the UFC would have told him no and risked their biggest moneymaker leaving over a drug testing issue? St-Pierre could have held the welterweight belt hostage. That would have been a public relations disaster, something picked up by every major media outlet.
Instead, St-Pierre did say he was going away, but said it was because of personal problems and being too obsessed for his own good about the fight game. It has only been recently that St-Pierre has brought up his problems with the drug-testing system, mostly loudly on The MMA Hour.
Now he’s saying that he will not come back to the UFC unless changes are made, at least for his fights. If that sounds like an ultimatum, you’re right. It is. And it’s one that should have come a long time ago, when he really had the UFC by the testosterone-producing organs.
"The way they test now, it’s not good," GSP said. "If you get caught on steroids right now, it’s because you’re very disorganized. It’s ridiculous."
He’s absolutely right. And he also brought up another point about the state athletic commissions doing the testing: They, too, have a financial interest in the fights.
"The problem isn’t UFC, it’s the system," St-Pierre said. "I don’t want to hurt the UFC. I want to elevate the sport."
Maybe that’s why he didn’t raise a stink sooner. Maybe GSP is just too nice of a guy to stand up at a press conference with UFC president Dana White a few feet away and accuse the organization of having a performance-enhancing drug issue.
White has said repeatedly that St-Pierre never brought up drug testing when he spoke to White and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta about his sabbatical. All he mentioned were his personal issues. GSP said on The MMA Hour that he was adamant to them about his feelings on the topic and it was the first reason he gave for going into semi-retirement.
"I swear," St-Pierre said.
Someone obviously isn’t telling the truth. Let’s say St-Pierre did talk about that with White and Fertitta. Why did he wait until just the last month or so to air his grievances publicly? GSP admitted that was a misstep.
It’s been bothering me for a long time and I should have done this before.
“It’s been bothering me for a long time and I should have done this before," St-Pierre said.
Give him props for owning up to that. The UFC relies on the state athletic commissions to do testing and fighters know when they’ll be tested. Here’s the thing with random and more advanced testing methods: They’re expensive. The athletic commissions don’t have that kind of money and the UFC has almost 500 fighters under contract. That’s some serious coin.
And look, even when you do enact random tests and more sophisticated methods, competitors are going to beat them. Because the cheaters always seem to stay ahead of the curve. Look at Alex Rodriguez. He was using performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis and Anthony Bosch for years and never failed a drug test under Bosch’s direction. Major League Baseball’s drug testing is superior to athletic commission methods.
Still, there’s no doubt the UFC and the athletic commissions can be smarter and eliminating testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) was really only a façade.
"It’s the system," St-Pierre said. "They need to change the system."
He’s 100 percent correct. And St-Pierre remains the most powerful voice in MMA demanding testing reform. But for a guy whose fighting style was so technical and precise in the Octagon, his timing here is a little off.