So GSP is offering to pay for VADA testing for both himself and Johny Hendricks prior to their meeting at UFC 167 this coming November.
Aside from the obvious motive of further elevating his good guy image and taking the air out of his detractors, what can we glean from GSP offering to pay out of pocket for VADA testing? What does it really mean?
Well to start, big name fighters and former opponents such as BJ Penn and Nick Diaz have said a lot about St. Pierre’s tactics, and even accused him of using steroids. GSP is obviously one of the more muscular welterweights and MMA fighters period, but there are plenty of guys who maintain that kind of physique on a regular basis. Benson Henderson and Phil Davis come to mind, and you don’t hear a lot of accusations being thrown their way. Maybe something about St. Pierre just rubs some of his opponents the wrong way. Whatever the case, volunteering for VADA, which is what VADA is (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association), would do a lot to silence those who accuse St. Pierre.
But let’s break this down. There are rules and tests in place to keep fighters on a level playing field. When post-fight tests come back clean, then the fighters met the standards. That is all they are required to do. Check out some of the issues with testing (or the lack thereof) by various athletic commissions and you’ll see why working with VADA is a big step up from working without them.
GSP, like every other fighter who passes the tests required by the commissions in association with the UFC, is not breaking any of the rules of the organization he works for. Anything he does whether ethical or unethical as seen by your typical MMA fan or fighter, is entirely within the rules of the sport. That goes for anyone and everyone else; as long as they pass the tests required by the athletic commissions and the UFC, whatever they do is fair game.
Everything else goes. For everyone. There is obviously a wide range of stuff in that “everything” category, from drinking a particular protein or workout shake to testosterone replacement therapy. But if fighters piss clean, pardon my language, then they have met the same standard that applies to every fighter. Some of these fighters have valid complaints and the testing isn’t as stringent for MMA as it is for say Olympic athletes or even professional tennis players. But their beef doesn’t make a lot of sense when you consider that they are fighting in the same organization, by the same rules. There may be certain foods and supplements that give athletes an edge, but that’s not much different from training with particular people, practicing certain disciplines and learning from specific coaches. If you can afford to learn from Greg Jackson or Firas Zahabi, and have meals prepared for you by an expert nutritionist and chef, and train with top fighters year round, well you get the point. All of those things will also play roles in either making or breaking a fighter as well.
All GSP is really doing here is going the extra mile. He’s not only offering to pay for himself, but for Hendricks as well, who also eagerly agreed to the testing. This could set a bit of a precedent now, as fighters who are suspicious may call for VADA testing and point to GSP vs. Hendricks as an example. It’s hard to see GSP not going through VADA again, since it is a higher standard than normal. It wouldn’t make sense for a fighter to go through VADA for one fight, then back off and stop for their future fights. This could be the start of a trend in the UFC and it’s definitely a step in the right direction.