London: The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s CEO Densign White has spoken out against MMA’s treatment by parties in the Olympic movement in an interview today at immaf.org.
IMMAF first applied to the Global Association of International Sport Federations (GAISF) for (Observer Status) recognition of MMA as a sport in 2016.
“Progress since then has been fraught with obstructions, about-turns, new demands, delays and lack of transparency,” said the CEO. “We have jumped through every new hoop they have asked us to.”
This included merging with ‘rival’ international governing body for MMA, the World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA), in 2018, to address the issue of ‘rivalry’ raised by GAISF.
“Shockingly, we discovered afterwards that WMMAA had never even applied for membership to GAISF.” “Then in 2018, we were told by a GAISF administrator that our application had been lost and we would have to reapply.”
Following further communications, IMMAF’s second application was formally rejected in March 2019 “without adequate explanation,” at which point IMMAF reapplied.
“Although we … know other martial arts to be obstructing our application, no issues had ever been officially raised by them.”
At the end of 2019, GAISF eventually wrote to its members asking them to formally communicate any objections to MMA being recognised. In January, IMMAF was informed by GAISF that responses had been received from combat sports federations “who they declined to name” citing “their issue with us as being ‘non-compatibility’ – a term that had not been raised with us before.” GAISF failed to provide any further definition.
In his now published response to GAISF, the IMMAF CEO referred to the similarities in rules between various recognized sports, naming Basketball, Netball and Korfball; Tennis and Soft Tennis; Bandy and Ice Hockey, as well as, Savate, Muay Thai And Kickboxing, among others.
“Now this new criterion clearly gives wider scope for abuse and discrimination without good grounds.”
Meanwhile, IMMAF’s application to the World Anti-doping Agency in 2016 was rejected on the recommendation of GAISF, despite IMMAF meeting all Code criteria. WADA signatory status is a requirement for GAISF recognition, and the only one known to IMMAF that it does not meet.
Talking about IMMAF’s legal case against the WADA in the ordinary Swiss Courts, White also described his frustration at the inconsistency of WADA’s decision-making process:
“It has also come to my attention that WADA has accepted 3 different international federations for Taekwondo, a decision which must be influenced by GAISF since according to WADA they cannot currently make such a decision independently. This surely undermines GAISF’s arguments against MMA.”
White stated that IMMAF will be continuing its legal action against WADA:
“We will fight to the end for the result we want. Meanwhile, GAISF keep delaying on making a decision, but based on their decision we will decide our next steps.”
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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