The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has today (Thursday) said it has filed a civil lawsuit against the World Anti-Doping Agency over its refusal to endorse it as a Wada signatory.
The IMMAF said the lawsuit was entered in the ordinary Swiss courts in Lausanne on February 23. The federation has made the move amid ongoing frustration as it seeks to bolster its position, and recognition, within the Olympic Movement.
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 added that the sole reason given was rebuttal by other recognised International Sports Federations, mainly combat sports federations.
IMMAF chief executive Densign White (pictured) said: “I’m disappointed that it has had to come to this, but I feel IMMAF has been left with no alternative. Attaining signatory status to the Wada code is important to IMMAF, as it validates our work and empowers us to regulate.
“Without Wada recognition, IMMAF’s sanctions are easily bypassed with a resulting detrimental impact on our athletes, their safety and the sport of MMA. By refusing our application Wada strips IMMAF of its ability to ensure a clean sport, which runs contrary to its purpose.”
The IMMAF says Wada’s rejection also damages its reputation and MMA’s scope for development since Wada signatory status is a requirement of all sports federations wishing to become members of the Global Alliance of International Sports Federations (GAISF), the body formerly known as SportAccord.
GAISF is 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.
In November, the IMMAF and World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA) commenced merger talks amid an ongoing drive for the sport to gain wider acceptance in governance circles and ultimately press for a place at the Olympic Games.
A place on the Olympic Programme is the founding vision of the IMMAF and president Kerrith Brown has previously said the 2028 summer Games, which is set to be hosted by Los Angeles, is a realistic target.