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Firas Zahabi compares Anderson Silva to Lance Armstrong, says someone will die in Octagon due to steroids

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Firas Zahabi has some strong opinions about Anderson Silva's positive drug tests for anabolic steroid metabolites.

Georges St-Pierre's longtime coach told La Presse in Montreal that Silva's story is "similar" to that of Lance Armstrong, the disgraced cyclist who was stripped of his seven Tour de France victories amid a doping scandal.

"It's horrible for the sport," Zahabi told La Presse (translated from French). "Lance Armstrong has not helped the sport of cycling. A lot of people were inspired by his story and afterwards we find out that it's a lie. Here, we're going through something similar in our sport."

Armstrong won the Tour de France every year from 1999 to 2005. The United States Anti-Doping Agency presented evidence of doping in 2012 and those titles were taken away. Armstrong denied using performance-enhancing drugs on numerous occasions before telling the truth in January 2013 in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Armstrong, who came back from testicular cancer that spread throughout his body, was once considered one of the sports world's greatest heroes.

Silva, 39, is regarded as the greatest UFC champion of all time. The Brazilian held the UFC middleweight title for seven years and holds the UFC record for most consecutive wins (16) and title defenses (10).

Silva tested positive for drostanolone and androstane in a Jan. 9 out-of-competition drug test. The results did not come back until Feb. 3 -- three days after Silva defeated Nick Diaz by unanimous decision at UFC 183 in Las Vegas. Silva has been temporarily suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) and will face further discipline at a hearing in March or April.

Silva is denying that he took any performance-enhancing drugs. This is his first time testing positive for any banned substance. But Zahabi believes that all of Silva's accomplishments have to be called into question. He said that St-Pierre now must be viewed unequivocally as the greatest MMA fighter of all time.

"Georges is the best pound-for-pound fighter," Zahabi said. "We have to drop Silva. If he really cheated, we can't set this example for the youth. It's ridiculous. Is Lance Armstrong considered the best cyclist of all time? No. A few years ago, the answer would have been different."

St-Pierre, the former UFC welterweight champion, has said that he will not return to the UFC until there are stricter testing methods in place -- and that was before Silva popped positive for anabolic steroids. Zahabi said there are currently no plans for GSP to return this year. St-Pierre vacated the belt in December 2013, saying he needed to take some time off. He has never officially retired.

People, notably B.J. Penn and Diaz, have accused St-Pierre, 33, of performance-enhancing drug use throughout his illustrious career. Zahabi said those claims are baseless.

"Georges passed the tests of VADA, the best agency," Zahabi said. "All his tests are public. We are ready to take them again with random controls 24 hours a day. My athletes are natural and yes Georges is the best fighter of all time."

Zahabi also casts some blame at the commission for not getting the test results back in time before the bout.

"It's unbelievable that they let them fight," he said. "Me personally, I would like the sport to be cleaned up. Because one day, a guy is going to die in the Octagon and we're going to find out that the guy who killed him tested positive after the fact. Our sport is already dangerous enough as it is. If we add doping on top of that, it becomes madness."

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