Yahoo! Sports Special: St-Pierre’s Decision to Leave Was Hastened by Stance on Drug Testing

The following article was written by Kevin Iole and was originally published by official content partner Yahoo! Sports in its Cagewriter blog.

Georges St Pierre

Georges St-Pierre is the former UFC welterweight champion and not the reigning champion, in part he says because of the promotion’s stance toward testing for performance-enhancing drugs.

In a story by Julien Arsensault of the Canadian Press published almost exactly a month after St-Pierre vacated his title and announced he’d take a sabbatical, St-Pierre said that a lack of strenuous drug testing led in part to his decision to walk away on Dec. 13.

It bothered me greatly, [and] it was one of the reasons I decided to step aside

Prior to his fight at UFC 167 on Nov. 16 with Johny Hendricks, St-Pierre tried to get Hendricks to agree to random, unannounced drug testing. Hendricks initially agreed, then had a change of heart and did not. Hendricks wanted the testing to be administered by the World Anti-Doping Agency. St-Pierre had arranged the deal with the Las Vegas-based Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. St-Pierre went through the testing himself and passed all of the tests he was given.

He’d said he felt the UFC didn’t support him in his efforts to implement the testing, which prompted UFC president Dana White to call the situation “weird” during an interview with MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani.

The whole thing was done very weird. And if he feels like we didn’t support him, I don’t know. The whole thing’s [expletive] weird. I haven’t talked to him about it. He’s very fired up about it because he went out and started this thing and it’s turned into a [expletive]. I get it. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to tell him. The whole [expletive] thing’s weird.

St-Pierre told the Canadian Press that he remains undecided about a return to the sport that he dominated for seven years. He said he would not make enhanced drug testing a condition of his return.

He spoke, though, if his efforts to implement the testing at UFC 167 was a failure. Both fighters passed the tests they were given.

I tried to change things, and unfortunately, maybe for money reasons, maybe for image, they were not ready to do that. I tried to [bring about] change in a very diplomatic way and it didn’t work so it’s unfortunate, but I believe it will happen sooner or later.

UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta told Yahoo Sports Tuesday that he was “disappointed” to learn of St-Pierre’s comments. Fertitta said he wants to read all of the stories from the interview St-Pierre gave, and said he would then call St-Pierre to discuss it.

“We’ve always had an open line of communication with him and I’d like to know why he feels that way,” Fertitta said.

Fertitta said the UFC “has a very, very strong stance against any PEDs,” and said it would support whatever drug testing a state athletic commission would request of a UFC fighter.

Fertitta said that if a commission wanted to test UFC fighters both before and after a fight, he would be fully supportive of the effort.

He pointed to the fact that the UFC paid for enhanced testing for both Travis Browne and Josh Barnett prior to their bout at UFC 168 on Dec. 28 in Las Vegas.

“It was extremely disappointing to hear Georges make those comments because I don’t think any organization has embraced drug testing as we have,” Fertitta said. “We have not only agreed to pay when the commission has said it wants to do enhanced testing, we’ve encouraged it. We have no problem with testing. When we serve as the commission [in areas out of the country where there is no commission], we test everyone on the card so we are thorough and there can be no claims of bias.

“Whatever a commission would want us to do in terms of testing, we would embrace it. We’ll do as many as they want. I think perhaps Georges’ people didn’t communicate to him in detail everything we’d do as they tried to arrange the testing for the fight with him and Johny.”

UFC executive Michael Mersch worked with Keith Kizer, the executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, as St-Pierre and Hendricks tried to agree upon an enhanced testing protocol.