UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre (24-2) is no stranger to accusations of steroid use, despite never testing positive for any banned substances. He recently extended the offer to his upcoming opponent Johny Hendricks (15-1) to participate in random testing through the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) leading up to their UFC 167 bout in November.
This move by GSP is supposedly “to set a good example,” but it seems more focused on proving to the world that he’s clean rather than trying to suggest Hendricks might not be. Hendricks is reportedly open to the testing protocol. He also has no history of any positive tests for any banned substances.
The UFC currently has no official random drug testing protocol, though an athletic commission can impose a testing schedule in special cases.
The last major UFC fighter to be subjected to a random pre-fight test was Heavyweight Alistair Overeem (36-12, 1 NC), and he failed it back in March 2012. His test came back with extremely high testosterone levels and the debacle forced the UFC to cancel his scheduled fight with Junior Dos Santos.
Dr. Margaret Goodman founded the VADA. She is a Las Vegas neurologist and the former chairwoman of the medical advisory board of the Nevada Athletic Commission. She estimated in public reports that a program to test all fighters under contract to the UFC twice a year would cost between $1 million and $1.5 million a year. Other fighters who publicly agreed to the eight-week testing protocol paid out of their own pockets to facilitate the program.
For those who are getting away with using PEDs, it’s likely a case of knowing when to wean themselves off the regimen in time to pass the normal testing procedures before and after fights. Many fighters have also pointed out a huge problem with TRT being used by fighters recovering from injuries, and abusing TRT during a training regimen still provides the violator with a definite advantage over someone who is clean through their training.
UFC President Dana White is always stressing that his fighters must put on a show if they want to stay with the organization and climb the ranks. For those who can’t do that naturally, they turn to PEDs. Like the fans who suggest that baseball players caught up in steroid accusations should have an asterisk next to their official records, many mixed martial arts fans view PEDs as the worst kind of cheating even if fighters aren’t getting caught.
Fighters who do get caught typically serve suspensions of six months to a year or more. It may not be enough punishment to deter most PED users, and there certainly could be more done to prevent the hidden abuse going on inside the ranks of the UFC and all other MMA organizations across the globe.
Georges St. Pierre is conscious that even unfounded allegations of steroid use can taint his legacy. For him, there is no price too high to make sure his legacy in MMA remains intact.