UFC CEO and co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta was both shocked and “extremely disappointed” by Georges St-Pierre’s comments on Tuesday regarding pre-fight drug screening in the UFC, per Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports.
It was extremely disappointing to hear Georges make those comments because I don't think any organization has embraced drug testing as we have. 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.
St-Pierre, who was by far the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view draw, vacated the welterweight title back in December and announced he would be going on an indefinite hiatus.
It was initially believed that St-Pierre’s only reason for relinquishing his throne was to take some time off and attempt to live a “normal life,” which is how he put it during a media conference call.
However, the former UFC champ had a much different tone when speaking with the French media. According to St-Pierre, his decision to step away from the sport wasn’t just about taking a break and clearing the cobwebs. A big part of the reason stemmed from frustration with the UFC’s passive approach when it comes to pre-fight drug testing.
Back in October, St-Pierre told La Presse (h/t BJPenn.com) that he was very disappointed with the UFC’s lack of support when trying to enlist the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) to oversee his title fight with Johnny Hendricks.
St-Pierre even went as far as offering to pay $16,000 out of his own pocket for both tests. Hendricks was initially on board for the testing, but he quickly retracted his offer due to a sneaking suspicion that St-Pierre was in league with VADA.
Instead of backing St-Pierre’s proposal for extra testing, UFC president Dana White said the entire situation made St-Pierre and Hendricks “look stupid,” during an appearance on Fox Sports Google Hangout. He merely chalked it up as St-Pierre wanting to prove something due to the many accusations he has incurred over the years pertaining to performance-enhancing drugs.
It was obviously a misread by the UFC, as the promotion’s refusal to take St-Pierre’s suggestion seriously might have forever pushed him out the door. Talking to a group of French reporters on Tuesday in Montreal (h/t MMAFighting's Ariel Helwani), St-Pierre had this to say:
It bothered me enormously. ... This is a relatively new sport. 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.
If we want the sport to be accepted worldwide, like baseball, hockey, football, soccer, I believe [drug testing] is the thing to do. ... I wanted to remain diplomatic, but unfortunately there were people who weren't ready to change things. I'm certain it's a question of time. And maybe if things change one day, I'll return.
The ball is in the UFC’s court to embrace change. If not, then perhaps this truly is goodbye to arguably the greatest fighter in MMA history.