UFC

GSP begins VADA drug testing

Georges St Pierre, Johny Hendricks
GSP and Johny just can't seem to agree on testing terms.
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Mike Chiappetta

Mike Chiappetta has documented the fast-growing sport of mixed martial arts since 2006 for news organizations including SB Nation, NBCSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, AOL and ESPN. He appears regularly as an analyst on countless television shows and radio programs, including CBS Radio and MMA Beat. Follow him on Twitter.

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Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks are two fighters on the same page yet can’t seem to agree. Both the UFC welterweight champion and No. 1 contender have stated an intention to help clean up the sport’s reputation by proving they are clean, yet through misunderstandings and incomprehension, they remain at odds over just how to do it.

This all began in July when St-Pierre, on his own dime, invited Hendricks to participate in testing with VADA, the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, a non-profit Nevada-based group that has made inroads mostly in boxing. In 2012, however, both B.J. Penn and Rory MacDonald enrolled in VADA and passed all their tests prior to meeting in the octagon. Through media interviews at the time, Hendricks initially agreed.

St-Pierre’s participation, however, would make him the biggest MMA name to take part in VADA, and it seems as if over time, that has drawn some red flags from Hendricks’ side, which has suggested that the relationship between VADA and GSP may not be on the up and up.

Their evidence? Two things. For one, his manager Ted Ehrhardt claimed that he’d discovered VADA is paying for St-Pierre’s test. For the other, there was a picture of St-Pierre on the VADA website. Using that as their ammunition, Hendricks called the situation “a little suspect” and believes it denotes favoritism towards the champion.

Hendricks is of course free to feel however he likes, but at least part of his belief system regarding the St-Pierre/VADA link is untrue, VADA president and board chairman Dr. Margaret Goodman told FOX Sports on Tuesday.

“We have had no relationship with GSP other than his contacting us to test both fighters and explain our program in great detail,” said Goodman.

Goodman, a neurologist and former Nevada state athletic commission chief ringside physician, also told FOX Sports that VADA never offered to test either fighter for free, that St-Pierre’s camp offered to pay for both fighters, and that Hendricks, too, would have appeared on the site if he joined the program, the same way all participating fighters have in the past.

The confusion between the two sides may stem from the early days of exploring the possibility of using VADA. According to Goodman, on July 2 — more than four months prior to their UFC 167 bout — St-Pierre’s trainer Firas Zahabi originally contacted the organization to ask for price quotes on the testing.

Because program costs depend on the length of the program and location of the fighters, Goodman quoted him the price of $10,000 per fighter. Since St-Pierre was to be paying for both himself and the challenger, it would have cost him $20,000 total. However, at the time, the organization, which has helped to fund testing in the past, offered to subsidize $2,500 per each fighter, so it would have cost GSP $15,000 total, or $7,500 per fighter. However, Goodman said, weeks passed without applications from either St-Pierre or Hendricks.

During that time, the sides also spoke with the Nevada state athletic commission, which will regulate the Las Vegas event, about adding additional random testing. Hendricks, feeling uncomfortable with the VADA proposal, said he wanted to be tested by WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency. That, however, is impossible. WADA does not test athletes; they monitor the fight against drugs in sport through policy but they do not test. Instead, they accredit labs to carry out testing to their rigid standards and procedures. Now here’s the rub: VADA does not do testing either. They use the same WADA-approved labs as Hendricks is asking for.

So whether St-Pierre and Hendricks were being tested through VADA or the additional out-of-testing, NSAC program, their samples were going to end up in the same place: a WADA-accredited lab. VADA never touches the sample; it is only a facilitator.

On Aug. 29, St-Pierre quietly applied for VADA testing. Because the time scope had changed from the original early July estimate, the cost was adjusted to $8,000. According to Goodman, VADA no longer had the funds to subsidize the program, so St-Pierre paid the entire fee for himself. He will be tested randomly and periodically for the next months. Despite his original agreement, Hendricks, however, never applied, choosing to stick solely with NSAC testing.

“We are happy that Mr. Hendricks is so vocal for clean sport and of course, wish him the best,” Goodman said. “VADA is voluntary, and we believe no inference should be made if a fighter doesn't wish to participate.”

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