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GSP is right: UFC running out of excuses on steroid usage & impotent drug testing

By Zach Arnold | January 15, 2014

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Remember the anonymous ESPN MMA fighters poll where those surveyed thought the amount of fighters doping was 51%?

Former UFC Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre says UFC’s lack of drug testing support bothered him enormously.

Here is the RDS media link if you want to view the original news source on the story.

GSP’s sentiments echo the same words of veteran MMA writers, including Eddie Goldman. Eddie is often dismissed as a crank on the issue of doping in sports but his criticism of doping in combat sports has been on the money.

You remember the debacle for drug testing requests before the St. Pierre/Johny Hendricks fight. GSP signed up with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency to have supplemental drug testing for his title fight. Hendricks and his camp weren’t interested. Dana started criticizing St. Pierre’s drug testing demands. Keith Kizer carried the anti-Margaret Goodman spin. The VADA critics made St. Pierre out to be a guy with a financial incentive for agreeing to test with VADA.

Of course, this is the same VADA that busted Lamont Peterson for microdosing on testosterone pellets while Nevada’s drug tests couldn’t catch such usage.

Only in the world of combat sports could a fighter asking for tougher drug testing be categorized as unreasonable to the masses while the organization that changed combat sports forever by booking & promoting testosterone-using fighters in top fights is somehow categorized as statesman-like and grown up. The same organization that self-regulates foreign events and lets fighters like Nate Marquardt and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva use testosterone. Look at recent history. The UFC has helped influence the rules of engagement for anabolic steroid usage in combat sports.

Lorenzo Fertitta is quoted in this ESPN article stating that UFC encourages athletic commissions to use the most rigorous drug testing protocols possible. Really? When you start having those same athletic commissions giving top fighters permission to use anabolic steroids while at the same time scolding fighters for failing IQ (drug) tests for elevated levels of testosterone, you have effectively changed the entire ball game when it comes to doping standards in combat sports.

And when it comes to UFC’s drug testing protocols for fighters on foreign cards, I would hardly call their standards “rigorous” if they’re not using the Carbon Isotope Ratio drug testing standard to detect synthetic testosterone usage in urine samples.

St. Pierre’s statements about UFC’s two-faced spin on drug usage in MMA made headlines across the globe and rightfully so. He called out the UFC and their political enablers. Keith Kizer said that he didn’t want MMA fighters getting permission for testosterone usage to be labeled with a scarlet letter. Before the UFC started pushing the testosterone issue, no other major promoter in combat sports had even considered influencing athletic commissions to give permission slips to fighters for testosterone usage. Not Bob Arum, not Golden Boy, not Showtime, not HBO. This testosterone trend falls squarely on UFC’s lap and they know it.

Which is why, all along, I have repeatedly said the testosterone issue is a giant political & public relations loser for the UFC. And instead of cutting fighters who are using testosterone, UFC is promoting some of those fighters in main event slots. Hello, Vitor Belfort. He’ll have a chance to make millions fighting Chris Weidman in a few months on PPV and be presented with an opportunity to win a UFC title belt.

Compare the amount of MMA fighters given permission to use testosterone versus the number of athletes the International Olympic Committee has given permission to use testosterone. The difference is staggering.

Lorenzo Fertitta, Marc Ratner, Sig Rogich, and Skip Avansino are the major power players at the Nevada State Athletic Commission. With Keith Kizer exiting his position as Executive Director, ask yourself if the Nevada politicos are going to choose a new Executive Director who is going to stop handing out the permission slips to UFC fighters to use testosterone. We know what that answer is already.

There have been quite a few defenders of MMA fighters being allowed to use testosterone and I’ve heard their arguments. The difference between the pro-steroids crowd and the UFC is that the pro-steroids crowd is willing to be honest & transparent. They aren’t two-faced in their arguments made for public consumption. They will tell you to your face what they think should be acceptable. I can deal with an honest broker. In the case of the UFC, however, they’ve helped create an environment where anabolic steroid users are rewarded, if not praised for their behavior. Opening Pandora’s box on testosterone usage in MMA has a direct impact on the health & safety of all fighters who enter the cage. Testosterone usage doesn’t improve your win/loss ratio but it sure as hell gives you more punching power and allows you to absorb more punishment in the cage when you are suffering from concussive brain damage.

Georges St. Pierre is right. The global sports world is evolving on drug testing protocols while American sports organizations are desperately lagging behind. The comments at Reddit MMA about what St. Pierre had to say are very interesting to say the least. The UFC can’t argue the doping issue on the merits any longer, which is why the defenses being presented by both Lorenzo Fertitta & Dana White are falling on deaf ears now. That’s not a position they want to be in, but it is a position they have put themselves in.

There’s a reason Sherdog called the testosterone plague in MMA their 2013 Story of the Year.

Update: Jamie Penick responds to Dana White’s predictable outburst against GSP on Wednesday. Hint: challenging St. Pierre’s manhood for not making his remarks “face to face” is as boilerplate a Dana response as you can get.

Topics: Canada, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 27 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

27 Responses to “GSP is right: UFC running out of excuses on steroid usage & impotent drug testing”

  1. Chuck Finley says:

    The problem is that no one in the media is willing to talk about it wholesale or on an investigative basis because Zuffa controls access.

    I can see why someone like Fox Sports doesn\’t touch it with a ten foot pole, as they\’re in bed with Zuffa, but everyone else is scared of losing access by talking about it.

    And the number of fights on some variant of PED is probably around 60% … with the number trending higher in the larger weight classes.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    Awesome for GSP to speak out about it.

    But talk is cheap. He can be the chosen one. The one to lead the fighters to the promise land. He needs to use this talk to work towards a fighter\’s union. And he is the PERFECT fighter to do this.

    Bring balance back to the fighters.

  3. Chris says:

    Thumbs up Georges St. Pierre.

  4. Wonderjudas says:

    Thanks, Zach.

    Here’s another interview with a local radio station, just for completion’s sake:

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    Saw two news breaks on FOX Sports 1 near the end of TUF UK/Aus. They said they would be talking with Dana White concerning what GSP said.

    One person referred to GSP’s comments as “inflammatory”. The other said GSP’s “recent allegations”.

    If there was ever any doubt as to how FOX would handle real news against the UFC…. I think we have our answer.


    As an example of how it could be handled…. There was a year end review of boxing on Jim Lampley’s show on HBO. And on that show they talked at length about WADA and VADA testing and how they commended fighters going through more testing and how it needs to be the norm.

  6. unhappy_meal says:

    Thanks Zach for sticking to your guns all this time. And thanks GSP, for using your stature at the right time. This is a major issue and the UFC unfortunately continues to hurt themselves in the long term/delay the inevitable with the way they choose to handle it. The mainstream perception of media and general public may go south for an uncomfortably long while should the Silva-GSP era quickly transition to a Belfort-Hendriks one.

    “The difference between the pro-steroids crowd and the UFC is that the pro-steroids crowd is willing to be honest & transparent.” This is a great sentence, and the crux of the issue. To be honest (if a little uneducated on the science), were I to pursue MMA professionally I’d almost certainly be on PEDs. Enhanced recovery from injury is a VITAL concern, with general performance enhancement secondary. This is what the UFC cares about as well. Notice how much more severe the repercussions are if a name fighter can’t make it to a fight (and god can’t help them if they fail a test before) vs. being injured during or getting popped after a fight (ie: after the UFC has been paid)?

    The aspect I’m unsure about is whether PED’s have advanced with respect to improvement to long-term health… I mean, the list of deaths/decline in health in WWE performers (and NFL) a decade ago once they reached their 40’s was staggering.

    Generally speaking however, methinks that long-term health is not an immediate concern to those who pursue this particular vocation.

  7. King Famous says:

    It was nice to hear GSP stand up and speak up. It still baffles me that some fans see things differntly when it comes to issue. When the champion of an organization, one that is arguably the best of all time comes out and says there is a problem with this, I have to believe him. I hope things change for the better. Sort of wish Lorenzo came out and said “You know, we can do better,” instead of the typical press release crap that was released today.

  8. 45 Huddle says:

    Listening to DFW at both the post fight press conference and on FS1 left a dirty taste in my mouth about the UFC.

    He is out of control and Fertitta needs to do something about it.

    If anything GSP was proven right. You cannot say anything bad about the UFC without it hurting your career.

    • Jonathan says:

      45 Huddle,

      You said that two years ago, and I agreed with you. You said it a year ago, and I agreed with you.

      I still agree with you, but what has to happen for it to change?

      I don’t think it will, because the UFC is successful, and nothing is going to change until they are no longer successful.

      Just my thoughts.


      • 45 Huddle says:

        I think it can change if a fighter like GSP wants to do something about it.

        Unlike former disgruntled fighters…

        1) GSP has a good standing with fans.
        2) GSP is still very popular.
        3) GSP still has a CONTRACT with Zuffa.

        The 3rd piece is the most important one. He would need government intervention to help form the union since they are considered independent contractors. But he could easily talk with a guy like John McCain and get something done. Politicians love nothing more then topics that will be covered in the media and it looks like they are helping out the deprived.

        I have always been for one organization with all of the top talent. But that needs to come with a fighters union to create a proper checks and balances.

        And I have never seen a better time then now in the history of MMA to make that happen.

  9. The Gaijin says:

    Take it for what you will, but I recently saw noted Zuffa astroturfer ‘mmalogic’ making some swipes at/minimizing DFW’s role and importance in the Zuffa machine and saying how really unimportant DFW is to the grand scheme and business side of things and that he’s really just a public face/mouthpiece that Lorenzo uses. Not saying this is a huge revelation to anyone, but given that mmalogic is now openly saying on the message board makes you wonder a bit…

    • 45 Huddle says:

      He is becoming a huge liability. At one point it was refreshing to see the head of a sporting organization speak their mind. But he doesn’t have an off switch and he is doing more damage then he is doing good at this point.

      Think about it this way. If you are thinking about advertising with a UFC Champion…. How comfortable would you be that the president of the UFC would not bash the champion in public and as a result hurt the image of your product?

      As these international shows are showing…. Dana White doesn’t even need to be there for the shows to run properly. And Joe Silva and Lorenzo Fertitta are just as capable of negotiating deals with fighters.

      I don’t see the purpose of White at this point in the company. He is a huge liability who is hurting the “brand” more then he is helping it.

      • rst says:

        I think Fertitta would be a better front man these days.
        He’s more level headed (hehe, get it?) and he seems to be more interested in the sport recently then he seemed to be before.
        But he still seems hesitant to step fully into carrying the weight.
        I wish he would.
        Dana wouldn’t have to retire, he could hang out in the office and make himself useful with Chuck and Matt Hughes.

    • nottheface says:

      He’s also using the talking point that improved testing will just make it easier for the wealthiest fighters because they can afford the stuff that can’t be detected, implying that GSP was using this to game the system and is really a cheater himself.

      It’s fun to read logic to see what talking points they’re trying to float and see which one’s get traction.

  10. Jason Harris says:

    Been a bit since we’ve seen a VADA advertisement on here!

    Your PED articles would have a lot more teeth if they didn’t constantly fall back into recommending VADA as a solution, and declaring anyone who doesn’t want to pay VADA “anti Margaret Goodman”

    Sentences like this:

    “The VADA critics made St. Pierre out to be a guy with a financial incentive for agreeing to test with VADA.

    Of course, this is the same VADA that busted Lamont Peterson for microdosing on testosterone pellets while Nevada’s drug tests couldn’t catch such usage.”

    What does one of those have to do with the other? It just misdirects the criticism to a completely unrelated situation to make the company look good. What does Lamont Peterson have to do with VADA “sponsored” fighters getting a financial incentive to use them and pressure their opponent into paying them?

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Been a bit since we’ve seen a VADA advertisement on here!

      You’ve accused me in the past of taking money or having a financial interest in VADA. You’re not obtuse — you’re libelous. And last time we went down this road, I challenged you to provide evidence of such a claim. If this was the British system, I would have been able to challenge you in court over such a false claim. Which is why you know you can get away with those remarks against someone like me who isn’t in the UK.

      For the record, the whole crux of St. Pierre’s comments were about the drug testing he agreed to with… VADA.

      Which makes this comment even more ridiculous:

      Your PED articles would have a lot more teeth if they didn’t constantly fall back into recommending VADA as a solution, and declaring anyone who doesn’t want to pay VADA “anti Margaret Goodman”

      There isn’t a single sentence in this article pushing VADA as the solution.

      The whole point of the Lamont Peterson reference had to do with the fact that Nevada testing, which was on-going with VADA testing, didn’t catch Peterson microdosing when Goodman’s testing did. That’s not an opinion — that’s a historical fact. Nothing more, nothing less.

  11. rst says:

    So now dizzy is gonna disparage GSP’s manhood?! Really? That’s where he’s gonna go with this? This guy!

    I suppose my response would be to have the discussion about it in front of everybody. On a conference call so that we can all hear what misterman has to say to GSP’s “face” and not via selected media acolytes or in a private conversation without a witness.

    Like a man. (Hey, how about in a back alley with cameras present for that matter.)

    • rst says:

      Maybe what dana did could inadvertently be for the best.
      I think GSP was just putting that out there as a genuine concern to him which it was before the hendricks fight close decision or not, but wasn’t really fishing for a confrontation.
      dana has trt’d it with personal insults and specifically calling for a confrontation on the subject. Thats actually even better. We’ve all already discussed it among ourselves separately and through media conduits, and been ignored. But behind closed doors isn’t the manhood way to do it, thats part of the problem. Here’s a golden opportunity for dana to prove his manhood and how much he cares about the fans by discussing the subject with GSP face to face and let the fans decide who’s BSing here.

      I wonder if there’s someone in the media who isn’t a dana acolyte and hasn’t already been blacklisted for not being one who could arrange that.

  12. 45 Huddle says:

    Donald Cerrone is saying he is broke.

    This isn’t even an issue of the UFC not paying enough. He has made a lot of money the last few years despite never fighting for the title.

    Some people just aren’t good with personal finances. Sad, but I think we will see this happen with a lot of fighters. They get a lump sum a few times a year and have no clue how to control the spending.

    • rst says:

      Its possible that MMA fighters have to make some pretty good coin to have any left over.
      I’ve heard that training is rather expensive.

    • Alan Conceicao says:

      This has been predictable all along, but everyone sure felt better talking about how they all had “college educations” a few years ago.

    • edub says:

      I’m actually surprised more don’t have tax problems. Joe Riggs talked about having them bad in an interview with Ariel.

  13. rst says:

    Oh, oh.

    Rich Franklin has apparently done an interview were he says that his UFC earnings aren’t enough to retire on.
    Looks like somebody is going to get their manhood publicly questioned by dana again and probably thrown under Lyoto Machida for his last fight.

    Maybe he should have waited to say anything.

  14. Jonathan says:

    Ceronne said that he does not know how to save money, and that he if he sees something, likes it, and has money in the bank, he buys it.

    Don’t put this blame on the UFC. Put it on him for being a dumbo with his finances. Yes he is going to down, out, and broken when he is done fighting.

  15. Karlsson says:

    Makes me respect Dan Severn even more. Take away the Coleman, Shamrock, losses for starters. Draw with Kimo, etc. Ronda fights clean… How ’bout GSP greasing vs. Penn? That was FLAGRANT. GSP is a twitchy little creep anyway, and Hendricks acted like a little jerk after their 1st fight. Ok. Done.

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