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Georges St-Pierre calls new UFC drug-testing policy 'a big step in the right direction'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Georges St-Pierre has given his stamp of approval of the UFC's planned drug-testing reform.

The former UFC welterweight champion, currently on sabbatical from fighting, tweeted Wednesday that the UFC's planned overhaul of its drug-testing policy is a "big step in the right direction for our sport."

One of the reasons St-Pierre has cited for his absence is that he's unhappy with the current PED situation in MMA and will only return if there are sweeping changes in the testing process. The UFC's announcement Wednesday in Las Vegas of random, year-round, out-of-competition testing for the entire roster of nearly 600 fighters could indeed qualify as that.

GSP tweeted that he was "very happy" to learn of the new initiative and he "can't wait to get more details" about the protocol, third-party testing agency and sanctions on fighters who test positive. UFC president Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said Wednesday that they would encourage state athletic commissions to enact suspensions of two to four years for drug violators.

The UFC will also administer mandatory, enhanced out-of-competition testing to main event and championship fighters on all cards starting July 1.

Anderson Silva, one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, tested positive for anabolic steroid metabolites in an out-of-competition test Jan. 9 and then again in a post-fight test Jan. 31. Silva defeated Nick Diaz via unanimous decision at UFC 183. He'll now be facing discipline from the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) at a hearing in either March or April.

Recent positive tests from Silva and welterweight contender Hector Lombard somewhat forced the UFC's hand to begin this process sooner. UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones also popped for cocaine metabolites in a random, out-of-competition test, but he was not penalized by the NAC because cocaine is not prohibited out of competition.

"Given the recent spate of high-profile cases, we felt like we needed to do this sooner rather than later," Fertitta said. "For the good of the sport, for the integrity of the sport, for what we're trying to do here, we needed to address this issue ASAP."

St-Pierre has long been an advocate of a clean sport. He said on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani last week that the recent failures were "just the tip of the iceberg."

"It's going to be other names coming up," GSP said. "That what's you guys don't understand. If they keep doing the right testing, it's going to be other guys coming up. I'm not a rat. I don't want to say any names, but I want to change the system. And what it shows is now we've got a big problem, and they need to do something with it."

Maybe that started up Wednesday.