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IMMAF set to take Wada dispute to Swiss courts

The International MMA Federation (IMMAF) will take its dispute with the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) to the Swiss courts after failing to come to an agreement following a meeting between the two bodies.

The mixed martial arts body and Wada met yesterday (Thursday) at the Palace of Justice in Lausanne, in an attempt to broker an agreement that would avert a full civil lawsuit. However, the IMMAF said no resolution was attained, and the session concluded with the judge giving permission for the federation to proceed with action in the Swiss courts.

The IMMAF is disputing the rejection of its application to become a Wada signatory on the grounds of infringement to its personality rights according to Swiss law. Wada has rejected the IMMAF’s application to become a signatory, but the federation claims to meet all the criteria needed for acceptance. It has previously stated that the sole reason given was rebuttal by other recognised IFs, mainly combat sports federations.

Wada signatory status is a requirement of all sports federations wishing to become members of the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), the umbrella organisation for international sports federations, which enables access to governmental support and public funding, and is the feeder organisation to the Olympic Games.

IMMAF chief executive Densign White (pictured) said: “GAISF are continuing to create bureaucratic hurdles and to shift the bar higher at each step, far higher than that set for other sports. IMMAF has only at this stage applied for observational status and not full membership.

“We are able (to) meet each request that GAISF throws at us, but ultimately, they are hiding behind bureaucracy for completely political and protectionist purposes. At the same time Wada, who are meant to be independent, continue to maintain that they need a green light from GAISF to accept IMMAF as a signatory, despite us being fully compliant. And so, the sport of MMA is caught in this cycle, and unfortunately the only way we can see a way out is through the courts.”

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