Update February 16, 2017 – Today Marc Raimondi reports that GSP is indeed not currently in the USADA testing pool.
Also noteworthy are the UFC/USADA’s updates to the anti doping policy revealed today which could shelf GSP for up to 6 months if his return is not finalized before April 1 absent the UFC playing the ‘exceptional circumstances’ card. Specifically GSP would be caught by s. 5.7.3 of the new policy which reads as follows:
An Athlete who gives notice of retirement to UFC, or has otherwise ceased to have a contractual relationship with UFC due to Athlete-Initiated Inactivity, may not resume competing in UFC Bouts until he/she has given UFC written notice of his/her intent to resume competing and has made him/herself available for Testing for a period of six months before returning to competition. UFC may grant an exemption to the six-month written notice rule in exceptional circumstances or where the strict application of that rule would be manifestly unfair to an Athlete.
Today Ariel Helwani reports that “St-Pierre, the former UFC welterweight champion, is on the verge of signing a new multi-fight contract with the promotion, multiple sources confirmed with MMA Fighting.”
If true the next question is timing and a key analysis will be whether he will be shelved for 4 months due to the UFC/USADA anti doping protocols.
Section 5.7.1 of the policy requires athletes who “ceased to have a contractual relationship with UFC, may not resume competing in UFC Bouts until he/she….has made him/herself available for Testing for a period of four months before returning to competition.”
As was learned from the high profile Brock Lesnar affair, the UFC has discretion to waive this requirement in “exceptional circumstances” a phrase that is not defined. When the period was waived for Lesnar who then committed an anti-doping violation, the UFC and Lesnar were hit with litigation.
GSP never used the word retirement and when negotiations to return heated up in 2016 he entered the USADA testing pool. The former welterweight champ was tested in August or September of 2016 but in October announced that he was no longer under UFC contract and “I’m a free agent.”. He has not been tested since.
While the UFC never accepted GSP’s position his announcement may sideline him for months. USADA’s testing powers come to an end with “the termination of (a fighters) contract with UFC“.
Earlier this year the UFC noted that they are tweaking the policy to take away waivers of this period for “athletes who chose at their discretion to be removed from the RTP” and that such athletes “will be required to have an extended presence in the RTP before returning to competition”.
GSP appears to meet this definition.