VADA, WADA, yadda yadda yadda.
At this point, the feud between UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and challenger Johny Hendricks isn’t so much a clinical debate over pre-fight drug testing as a public one about the "whys and why nots."
To help commemorate the 200th episode of The MMA Hour, a fired-up St-Pierre appeared on the show and discussed the latest in his ongoing saga with Hendricks over extraneous drug screening. Originally it was St-Pierre who wanted to use VADA ahead of their Nov. 16 title fight in Las Vegas at UFC 167, even offering to pay for it (which he did). Hendricks was at first on board but, suspecting that St-Pierre was in league with VADA (who used his likeness on its site), said he wanted WADA -- citing its reputation for being legit with the Olympics and the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Then it became a battle of sterile acronyms that carry implications regardless of actual intent.
In a nutshell, that’s where conflicting things began slapping up against each other in a haze of emails between managers and the commission which threw the whole thing into a procedural morass, in which eyebrows from both sides were raised in suspicion. It’s been messy from the moment it was introduced.
And that’s where St-Pierre would like to start. By filling people in between the differences between WADA and VADA, and by tamping down this notion that he is anything other than professionally affiliated with the latter.
"No, that’s not true," he told host Ariel Helwani. "This is ridiculous. I heard what Johny Hendricks said, and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He was talking about WADA, he said he wanted to do WADA."
Here St-Pierre spelled out the letters of the acronym W-A-D-A, which stands for World Anti-Doping Agency.
"First, let me educate you on the subject. WADA, it’s an organization that makes the guidelines. They make the guidelines for the testing association. VADA follows the guidelines of WADA. So when he said he wanted to be tested by WADA, there is no such thing. It’s an organization that makes the guidelines."
VADA is of course the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, which has been used by St-Pierre’s training partner Rory MacDonald in his fight with BJ Penn and numerous boxers in the past. The reason St-Pierre says he was adamant about the testing had less to do with accusing anybody of anything as it did helping the sport’s image.
Not to mention his own.
"A lot of people accusing me of taking steroids," he said. "In the past I always feel like it’s because people felt like I had good athleticism, so I took it as a compliment. But as time goes by I wanted to make a point. I wanted to prove to the world that you can be the world champion without using steroids. I’ve never used steroids in my life, and I wanted to make a point for myself.
"First reason is I wanted to do something good for the honest people in the sport that are fighting. And I wanted to do something good for the sport. As a champion I want to be a good role model, and as an athletic, outside the octagon my role is to elevate the sport to another level. I want to elevate the sport to a more mainstream level, and I think it’s the next step. I wanted to raise the bar and do something for the sport. I said I was going to do it. Hendicks said he was going to do it in the past, but he changed his mind. But me, I’m still doing it because I’m a man of my word."
St-Pierre pointed out that he has been undergoing the random testing already, that twice he’s been interrupted at the gym and at home. He didn’t downplay the nuisance of this, calling it a "sacrifice he wanted to make for this camp," but stuck to the idea that it felt necessary. And, though he pointed out on several occasions that Hendricks was the one who reneged on the original gentleman’s handshake to undergo this testing, he took the higher road when it came to pointing an incendiary finger at him.
"I don’t want to accuse Johny Hendricks, you can ask Johny himself the reason why he doesn’t want to do it," he said. "I’m not going to answer for him. The only thing I can is this -- people who want to be champion, people who want to make money, what makes you money as an athlete? It’s your brand, and how you succeed in your sport. Even if you’re brand is not good, you have a bad reputation you’re not going to make money and that sponsor is not going to want to sponsor you.
"When you say something you have to be a man of your word and do it. When I tell Hendricks I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it. That’s why I’ve made money in this sport because I have a good brand and I’m a man of my word. When I say something, I’m going to do it. It’s part of my person, to be authentic and who I am and be what I stand for."
Dana White was on record recently saying that both fighters "look stupid" in this ordeal, and that both should just let the commission do its standard testing, St-Pierre reiterated his position.
"I said I was going to do the commission testing, I’m still waiting for the paper," he said. "We have the email, we have proof of the email that my manager sent. We are waiting for athletic commission. I want to do both. I will do any test, I don’t care."