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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
UFC President Dana White unleashed a tirade of comments after UFC Fight Night 35 in response to Georges St-Pierre's statements on drug testing in the UFC this week. Below is a transcription of his statements, with reaction to key points:
"I knew somebody was going to ask that one before we got through with this press conference... First of all, I don't know if anybody remembers this, but Georges St-Pierre is the one who said he wanted to do the extra drug testing because he wanted to prove that he wasn't on drugs. It wasn't that he thought that Johny Hendricks was on steroids or performance enhancing drugs of any kind, he wanted to do this. And just like you see in boxing - you know when I said I thought it was ridiculous for these guys be doing - you see it in boxing all the time, one guy comes out and says 'I want to do extra drug testing because I'm worried about this guy...' They never come to an agreement. This guy says 'I want to use this one,' this guy says 'I want to use that one.' The Nevada State Athletic Commission is going to test them... They drug test. Not only did they drug test Josh Barnett for his last fight cause Josh Barnett was a guy who had been busted for performance enhancing drugs before, they also made Travis Browne do it too at the same time. And the UFC paid for that. We paid for that drug testing."
Penick's Analysis: Georges wanted both guys to be tested because he wanted to set an example. He made that point multiple times that, in addition to wanting to prove he was a clean fighter, he wanted to do something to change the way the drug testing is done. Using Barnett and Browne as an example actually accentuates St-Pierre's point, because that's the type of thing he was trying to push for. He was using VADA because it was a program trying to do just that, and he was more than willing to use the program the NAC put forth. The whole issue is that fights like Barnett-Browne are an extremely rare case, and White's continued rant down this line missed the point as well:
"Also, for him to say that we're very lenient on drug testing, when we go out of the country and we regulate ourselves, we test everybody on the card. Not just the main event, and not just the co-main event. And you want to talk about being lenient, the fight that I was screaming about, yelling about that it was the greatest fight I'd ever seen, Mark Hunt and Bigfoot Silva, we tested the guys for that fight, we caught Bigfoot Silva, and he got destroyed. Literally got destroyed for testing over the limit... What he did was, Vitor Belfort, Bigfoot Silva, any of these other guys that are on TRT, we test them throughout their whole camp. He did his last test the week of the fight, his numbers were fine. He took a shot after he got tested, so we tested him again after, and his numbers were through the roof, and he got destroyed. Lost the win money that we gave him, lost the bonus money that we gave him, and obviously he's not getting an extra bonus. The guy got smashed, and he's suspended for a year. If that's lenient on drugs, then I guess we're lenient then. I don't even know what to say to it."
Penick's Analysis: Again, the issue isn't about drug testing the night of fights. Where White's arguments completely miss the mark to St-Pierre's criticisms is in the fact that fighters are only receiving urinalysis on fight night. Yes, everyone's having to give a urine sample, but unless they're already on an exemption for TRT, they're not getting blood tested, and they're not getting tested out of competition to find the things that can be used during training and be out of a fighter's system by fight night. They catch a small percentage of fighters who are cheating the system by testing only on fight night, and touting that "everyone's getting tested" doesn't address that fact. Also, regarding Silva, his suspension was for nine months. Coincidentally, that's about how long it's going to take before he can return from shoulder surgery.
"What I heard is Georges St-Pierre is upset about some of the things that I said at the press conference, and he's upset that I said that he didn't win the fight, that I thought Johny Hendricks won the fight. If that's the case, call me man to man, let's talk on the phone, let's sit down face to face. I talked to him after the fight face to face, he didn't say any of that to me. So the whole thing is a little weird.
As far as the other thing he said, that we're a monopoly. Viacom is our competitor. They have a $40 billion dollar market camp. I'm never going to see $40 billion dollars as long as I live, neither will the UFC, so we're not a monopoly either. Everything that Georges St-Pierre said is a little kooky.
That's the other thing too... Lorenzo reached out to him, Lorenzo still hasn't heard from him yet. If Georges St-Pierre wants to talk like a man, he can pick up the phone and call us or come see us face to face. But everything that he said is ridiculous."
Penick's Analysis: White publicly berated St-Pierre for saying he needed some time away in an interview immediately following UFC 167. This started not because of him thinking Johny Hendricks won the fight, but for coming down with the line that St-Pierre couldn't take time away because he owed him, the fans, Hendricks, and the UFC that rematch. The level of disrespect levied that night was over the top even for White, and it continues here with this "call me man to man" comment. St-Pierre has grievances that he doesn't believe get addressed by the UFC on this front, and he even held back with his comments this week, saying there's more that he wants to say that he's not entirely. Expressing those issues to the UFC would fall on deaf ears, given the arguments White made tonight and consistently makes regarding drug testing. He's missing St-Pierre's point from the get go. As for the Viacom comment, it doesn't hold water in the least because Bellator doesn't have access to more than the tiniest of fractions of that $40 billion dollars. The UFC might not be a full monopoly, but St-Pierre's main point with that is how many are afraid to speak out against them. That's the point, and this backlash against the biggest pay-per-view star they've ever had is case in point. If it came from anyone else they'd be buried even further. But White wasn't done:
"One more thing about Georges St-Pierre while I'm standing up here. Georges St-Pierre, it upset him his whole career about B.J. and other fighters claiming that he was probably on some type of performance enhancing drugs, then he goes out and says something like he said the other day, which then he says it now about all the guys who fought here tonight and other guys who fight in the UFC. If you are using performance enhancing drugs in the UFC, I mean these guys get caught. You get caught when you do it. Maybe you're slick and maybe you made it past a couple of [events]. For instance, maybe you fought in one of these athletic commissions where they'll only test the main event, or they'll only test the co-main and main event. But then you show up at one of these international shows where people don't realize we're testing the entire card, from the first prelim to the main event. Everybody's getting tested. You're gonna get caught if you're using it. The thing that's bothered him and upset him his whole career, he now just threw back on all the other guys that are fighting, which is unfair to the guys who aren't using anything. And as far as TRT goes, TRT is a hot topic with a lot of people, including myself. It's legal, you can do it, but it has to be monitored, and believe me when I tell you, we monitor the shit out of people. We monitor guys. And I told you guys about Vitor Belfort that we would be all over him and we have been all over him, and he has always been within his limits."
Penick's Analysis: Back to the above point; just because everyone's getting tested on fight night doesn't mean they're catching everyone using. They're not doing comprehensive drug testing, and they're not doing out of competition blood testing unless a fighter has already gotten approval to use TRT. Which, great, they're monitoring "the shit" out of fighters on TRT. That should be done. Doesn't change the fact that despite its "legality," the International Olympic Committee has only ever given exemptions for massively extreme and rare cases, and other sports do not allow it at anywhere near the rate we've seen in the UFC. It also does nothing to catch those not on TRT who are abusing other drugs or using other performance enhancers while in fight camp. It's an empty statement to say that because they're doing urine testing of every fighter on fight night that PED users are all going to get caught. Urinalysis is far behind the more sophisticated drugs that are in play, and even the non-sophisticated methods can be cycled off of in order for a fighter to use in camp and test clean on fight night.
Also, regarding GSP's comments somehow being "unfair" to fighters currently on the roster: he's not calling anyone out individually and he's not naming any names. He's not slinging accusations at any person in particular, he's lobbying for a standard which will actually catch those who are using. It's not the same as fighters pointing at him and saying he was using something, and to say it's unfair to clean fighters is patently false. If anything, they should embrace that someone like St-Pierre spoke out and should want more stringent testing to actually catch more of those who are skirting the system.
"If Georges felt that way, he should have said it. He should have said it to our faces, or to my face. I'm not very sensitive, you're not going to hurt my feelings. I'm not always gonna say things that fans love and that fighters love, but I always give my opinion. I thought Johny Hendricks won the fight. That's my opinion as a fight fan and as a guy who sat there and watch the fight. I'm sorry if that hurts Georges' feelings, but that's how I saw it. Doesn't mean I don't like Georges, I've never said anything but good things about Georges his entire career.
Georges St-Pierre never said he wanted to go away, he said he needed some time off because he had all these personal issues going on in his life... so we said 'do your thing,' he vacates the title, we're having a title fight in Dallas now - tickets go on sale tomorrow - we left the guy alone, we're not asking him to do anything, we're letting him do his thing. Guy's out doing more interviews now than he did when he was fighting. Said he wanted to disappear for a while and go away. Well here we are, now we're talking about Georges St-Pierre, we're trying to get him on the phone, it's so weird."
Penick's Analysis: Once more, it had nothing to do with the fact that White thought Hendricks won the fight. It was the level of vitriol in his reaction to the fight and how demeaning that particular rant was to St-Pierre. That's what had him upset about that. And by my count, St-Pierre's done two interviews in public appearances since walking away, this just happened to make the rounds as it was a scrum up in Canada. The UFC wants to get him on the phone because of how damaging St-Pierre's comments could potentially be, and they want to put a stop to it before anyone else hears anything more. That's why they want a private discussion. But this reaction from White may just lead to St-Pierre no longer biting his tongue if he's got more in response. The handling of St-Pierre by White before UFC 167 and especially since has as much to do with St-Pierre speaking out now as anything, and this won't be the last we hear on this subject.
[Dana White art by Travis Beaven (c) MMATorch.com]
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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