In what appeared to be a simple goal, one that would clean up the sport of MMA, UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre was also hoping to clear up his own name by inviting his next opponent, Johny Hendricks to join him in being randomly tested through the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA). Instead, the situation is now dirty.
On July 5, St-Pierre spoke with UFC Central, stating, “I’m open to make the VADA testing for my next fight. I invite my opponent, of course, to this. I think it’s a way to clean up, not clean up the sport, as I know a lot of athletes are honest, but I think it’s a way, if you fight for the title, if you want to make it official, you know, if you want to take the sport the next level, I think this is what’s missing… I invite Johny Hendricks to do it with me.”
Echoing his prized pupil’s sentiments, GSP’s coach Firas Zahabi mentioned he had no issues if Georges wanted to go above and beyond what the Nevada State Athletic Commission was going to test for as the two are set to meet for the belt on Nov. 16 in Las Vegas. “It’s good for Georges, it’s good for the sport and it’s good for the future,” Zahabi said. “If the champion of the world is clean, then there can be no excuses for anyone else.”
Six days later, as a guest on UFC Central Radio on Sportsnet 590 The FAN, Hendricks was asked if he would accept St-Pierre’s invitation to specifically use VADA, with “Bigg Rigg” accepting, stating “Heck ya! … The worst thing that they’re going to find is a little bit of protein in my diet. If eating wild hogs and organic deer meat and a little bit of glutamine is bad for the ol’ system then I might fail… It doesn’t matter. Today, tomorrow, three months from now, I’ll gladly take a test for anything.”
A conference call between the UFC, the two camps and the Nevada State Athletic Athletic Commission then took place with the NASC explaining their proposed program.
After the conference call, GSP’s camp sent an email to all parties involved, which stated he would still do the testing required from VADA and the proposed NSAC testing program as well.
St-Pierre went on to file the necessary paperwork to VADA, which apparently also included paying for both his and his opponent’s testing, a sum of $16,000 ($8,000 of which is refundable, should Hendricks not agree to do the testing). This was simply an attempt to get the ball rolling while Hendricks team reviewed the files, prior to submitting them.
Georges has since been randomly tested, while VADA awaits Johny’s agreement to proceed.
While it appears the proceedings were aimed to clear the waters, it has since turned into a muddy affair.
In a report filed by MMAjunkie, accusations towards the champion and his representation, Rodolphe Beaulieu, caught the Canadians by surprise. The story said Hendrick’s manager, Ted Ehrhardt felt “suspicious about VADA testing after he discovered that the association is footing the bill of St-Pierre's tests, which contradicts the champ's earlier claim that he would pay for the two of them,” a strong claim considering VADA is an independent body, free from any conflicts of interest with any fighters, promoters and athletic commissions.
The article then showcases what seems to be a negative experience between Team Hendricks and the Nevada State Athletic Commission, specifically Keith Kizer, towards Beaulieu. The summary of which was that it was recommended both fighters also undergo a NSAC-enhanced drug testing program using a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited lab.
A peculiar request, as VADA uses WADA-accredited labs as well. The apparent difference is that VADA has specific policies and procedures that depict how a sample is collected, and the options each fighter has throughout the testing phase. Some as simple as making sure the collection “cup” or “needle” is clean and does not appear to be tainted, to other scenarios as well, like the repercussions of missing/declining a random test -- items which are very important in this delicate scenario, but not necessarily listed by other anti-doping agencies.
With the history of tainted samples in many MMA and boxing cases, it is in the best interest of each and every fighter to be fully aware of what his or her rights are during the testing phase and is generally something the fighter’s representation will comb over to ensure the rights of their client are transparent.
The article also stated that the NSAC claimed that Team GSP declined testing via their proposed program, but according to Beaulieu, this is not the case. He stated an email was sent to them, agreeing wholeheartedly to participate.
“Georges accepted a couple of weeks ago to do the NSAC enhanced drug testing program in addition to VADA. On August 17th Georges notified NSAC, the UFC and the Hendricks camp of his approval asking the necessary documentation to start the process (the whereabouts form, the application form), a detailed invoice as well as payment instruction. Naturally Keith Kizer and Ted were the representatives of NSAC and Hendricks to whom I sent the email,” Beaulieu said.
In essence, his client is willing to be tested by two separate organizations: VADA, and also the NSAC’s proposed program.
“Georges always said he was doing VADA,” reiterated Beaulieu. “He stands behind his words and he is doing the additional testing, as Hendricks camp prefers the NSAC ‘program.’”
The article also reports what looks like mixed messages between the commission and the champion’s camp, with Kizer none too impressed with what he allegedly claims is vagueness in Beaulieu’s responses, especially pertaining to any monies required for the additional testing.
But according to Beaulieu, “On the conference call there was no ambiguity on who will pay the invoice of whatever test, as Georges always said he will pay for Hendricks. He mentioned it as well during press conferences.” The cost proposed by the NSAC was approximately $20,000.
Team GSP stated they agreed, while their opposition says they did not. To wit, Beaulieu added, “We were still awaiting the documents to start their program.” But instead, “we received their answer Saturday afternoon, through MMAjunkie!”
In an attempt to clear the air, Beaulieu provided the exact email he sent to all parties, on Aug. 17:
We spoke with Georges today and he took his decision so for your information, Georges has decided that if johny Hendricks does not want to do VADA and prefers your proposed enhanced steroid and drug testing by the Nevada Athletic Commission, Georges will also do it, in addtion to VADA.
I will be out of the office without access to email or voicemail until August 27th but in the meantime, please provide us with all documentation, a detailed invoice and payment instructions necessary to proceed with such enhanced steroid and drug testing by Commission.
Stay tuned to sportsnet.ca and UFC Central for all the latest on this developing story.