Georges St-Pierre said his decision to take time away from the sport was as much a statement about his personal beliefs as a response to personal issues.
The former welterweight champ, who vacated the belt this past month, told a group of Canadian reporters that one of the reasons he left was to protest the UFC’s attitude on drug testing.
“It’s one of the reasons why I stopped,” St-Pierre told RDS.ca. “Not really to [teach] them a lesson, because it penalizes me, too. But I wanted to do something for the sport that I love. I see the direction in which it goes, and I think it makes no sense. This is stupid.”
That last word is one UFC President Dana White used to characterize the controversy that surrounded St-Pierre’s fight with Johny Hendricks at UFC 167.
After St-Pierre pushed for additional drug testing and said he would pay for it, the fighter’s camp agreed to enhanced testing using World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited labs. But Hendricks’ reps backed out when St-Pierre’s reps suggested they instead conduct testing through the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency, which utilizes the same labs, and officially, testing was left to the overseeing Nevada State Athletic Commission. St-Pierre, meanwhile, completed the VADA program on his own.
The incident left St-Pierre with a bitter taste in his mouth, and influenced his decision to walk away from the sport following his split-decision win over Hendricks at this past November’s pay-per-view event. (Both fighters passed NSAC post-fight drug tests.)
St-Pierre said prior to the fight that he wanted increased drug testing for UFC competitors and also to prove that he competes without performance-enhancing drugs.
“I think this is a big problem in the sport,” St-Pierre said. “Remember, because I’m an athlete, I have information internally and I know what happens. If you begin to test everyone, how (many) will be caught? I do not want to speak in public and I’m not accusing anyone, but the image of the sport may be affected.”
Recently, the UFC backed more stringent drug testing measures when it funded enhanced testing for a heavyweight bout between Travis Browne and Josh Barnett at this past month’s UFC 168. The promotion requires fighters to pass a drug screen prior to finalizing fight contracts, and with the increased prevalence of testosterone-replacement therapy, it has taken to monitoring fighters using the treatment in jurisdictions without an overseeing athletic commission.
To St-Pierre, however, the current measures are not enough. He said PED use remains rampant among UFC fighters.
“Everyone knows who, when, where and how,” he said. “There are people, some doctors, and everyone will see the same. It’s like all sports. Where there is money, there are ways to cheat, and it will always be so. But I think we should take steps to minimize those things, because it is not fair. I tried to change things remaining diplomatic. Unfortunately, people were not ready to change. This is OK, but I was disappointed.”
In March, Hendricks and Robbie Lawler will meet at UFC 171 to crown a new welterweight champion.
One month into his sabbatical, St-Pierre said the issue of whether he returns to meet the new titleholder is dependent on changes within the promotion that made him a star and, ultimately, gave him the means to step away from the life of a professional fighter.
“I am certain that it is a matter of time and one day, if things change, maybe I’ll be back,” he said.
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