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UFC 167:

Georges St. Pierre, Johny Hendricks warring over drug-testing mix-up

Simple disagreement creates animosity between headlining fighters on 20th anniversary card

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Georges St. Pierre buries his head while challenger Johny Hendricks answers a question about doping during a news conference Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 in advance of UFC 167.

UFC 167: News Conference

Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and challenger Johny Hendrics face off during a news conference Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 in advance of UFC 167. Launch slideshow »

UFC 167 Workouts: St. Pierre and Hendricks

Georges St. Pierre answers questions during the publicity workout for UFC 167 Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 at the MGM Grand. Launch slideshow »

UFC 167 Workouts: Evans and Sonnen

Blocking tape for David Copperfield's show later is seen during the publicity workout for UFC 167 Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 at the MGM Grand. Launch slideshow »

Johny Hendricks forcefully dropped the microphone for emphasis.

Georges St. Pierre didn’t even look up as the amplified thud echoed across the Hollywood Theater inside the MGM Grand. He had already buried his shaking head too deep into his hands.

The feeling that came across most at the final UFC 167 press conference for Saturday night’s headliners was fatigue from addressing their drug-testing disagreement.

“The reason I’m getting upset is we’re at the 20th anniversary of the UFC with these guys up here, great fights and you want to talk about doping things,” Hendricks said.

It’s the story that won’t go away as the long-awaited tangle between St. Pierre and Hendricks for the welterweight championship nears. But Hendricks can’t pass all the responsibility off on the inquisitors, as it’s his agitation with the situation that’s kept the discussion alive.

The ordeal started months ago when both fighters agreed to testing beyond the standard Nevada State Athletic Commission procedures in an effort to show their support for a clean sport.

“I wanted to do something positive,” St. Pierre said. “I’ve been accused in the past, and I wanted to show everyone it’s possible to be champion without using drugs. I wanted to make a statement and raise the bar. I didn’t want to do anything negative.”

The problems arose when it came to sorting out the specifics. St. Pierre committed to using the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association for the tests.

Hendricks balked at the idea when he realized how closely aligned the champion was with the company. The challenger instead suggested the World Anti-Doping Agency, which he found more neutral and stringent.

St. Pierre ultimately passed and went ahead with VADA, while Hendricks underwent no additional scrutiny.

“I’m a man of my word,” St. Pierre said. “I said I was going to do it and I did it. I’m disappointed it turned out like it did.”

Some variation of that thought has served as the company line for St. Pierre on any question about the testing. But Hendricks doesn’t interpret it as harmless, which is where his discontent is festering.

Hendricks thinks St. Pierre is insinuating he’s on something, which sets off the athlete who’s been heavily tested dating to his college wrestling days at Oklahoma State.

“He’s been accused the last six years of being on something,” Hendricks snapped at Wednesday’s open workouts. “He picks me and says I must be on something because I don’t want to follow the pony train to VADA. Get out of here.

“What I don’t respect is him saying I’m on steroids when he knows nothing about me.”

Hendricks is, at the least, guilty of doing the same, though. Although he qualified the statement by saying he didn’t care anyway, Hendricks questioned why St. Pierre looked like he “shrank” recently and how he comes into every fight perfectly chiseled despite weight cutting.

Between Hendricks and St. Pierre at the press conference was UFC President Dana White, who was equally tired of the drama.

“You are never going to have two guys fighting one another agree on the testing they’re going to do,” White said. “That’s why you have an Athletic Commission in place that is going to come in and regulate it, oversee it.”

White’s never been a proponent of additional testing precisely because of what’s playing out between St. Pierre and Hendricks. White saw this coming.

To him, it’s all unnecessary noise drowning out the only truth that matters.

“Georges St. Pierre has never tested positive for anything; Johny Hendricks has never tested positive for anything,” White said. “The thing has gotten legs it never should have because of the way this thing started out and the way these guys started debating it.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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