Georges St-Pierre's Comments About Drug Testing Are Worrying Sign for UFC

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2014

NEW YORK - MARCH 24:  Georges St-Pierre of Montreal, Quebec, Canada speaks at a press conference for UFC 111 at Radio City Music Hall on March 24, 2010 in New York City.  St-Pierre will face Dan Hardy of Nottingham UK in the Welterweight title bout. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

You can already picture Randy Marsh quickly rolling down his car window to admonish the public for not listening. UFC fans should heed warning to what Georges-St Pierre has to say about the promotion.

GSP made major waves this week when he revealed that the idea of stricter drug testing ended up causing a rift between he and UFC, per Brett Okamoto of

"It bothered me greatly," St-Pierre said, according to the Canadian Press. "It was one of the reasons I decided to step aside.

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

There are two things surprising about this.

One is that a fighter is pushing for more stringent procedures, only to be rebuked by a promotion. It's usually the other way around.

Two is that the fighter bringing this whole issue up is St-Pierre. GSP is famous for saying almost nothing of value in interviews, yet here he is dropping a major bombshell about UFC.

The fact that he feels compelled to say this doesn't look good for business, and it begs the question as to whether more fighters privately hold this belief but are too afraid to make it public.

Not too many others are in the position that GSP is. He doesn't have anything to lose. His career could be over already, and he's made more than enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life. That enables him to lay into UFC without too many serious consequences.

As you'd expect, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta had a swift response to St-Pierre, per Okamoto:

"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."

Dana White was less diplomatic when he spoke about the issue on Fox Sports Live after UFC Fight Night 35.

(Note: Skip ahead to about the 6:14 mark for the start of the GSP discussion.)

So now we have a higher-up in UFC, albeit the volatile White, publicly questioning the manhood of one of the company's biggest and most profitable stars. White also danced around the issue that St-Pierre brought to light.

His basic premise was since boxers can't agree on third-party testing, nobody can, as if boxing is the standard-bearer for any sort of ethical conundrums.

This comes after the UFC president completely threw GSP under the bus following UFC 167. He displayed a callous disregard for his fighter's health, attempting to publicly guilt him back into the Octagon, as if said fighter hasn't already done enough for the promotion.

It is eerily similar to the scene in Major League Baseball before all of the information about steroid use came out. When Jose Canseco came out with Juiced, he was dismissed as a nut job trying to get a few extra bucks by making outlandish accusations.

Nobody wanted to ask whether performance-enhancing drug use was rampant in MLB, so rather than talking about the message, they killed the messenger.

December 14, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; UFC president Dana White addresses the media during the press conference after UFC on FOX 9 at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

For fighters, this is all upsetting because UFC—in the form of White—is doing its best to try and tear down one of its most legendary fighters. And if that fighter wants to take time off to physically recover? That's too bad because he owes it to everyone else to keep going.

For fans, the talk about drug testing may be less of an issue than how UFC is handling its fighters.

WWE is often criticized for its treatment of wrestlers. Bret Hart famously said in the documentary Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows that pro wrestlers are like circus animals, and when they've exhausted their ability to earn money for the promotion, Vince McMahon takes them out back and puts them down.

White has used a lot of WWE's tactics to help build UFC into a major brand, but in this regard, he'd be smart to diverge from the path blazed by McMahon.

Both he and UFC have some soul-searching to do. Either they can take St-Pierre's critiques seriously and see if there's a problem in the company, or they can continue disparaging GSP while diverting from the true issue.

Only one of those is the right way to go.