IMMAF has been awarded WADA Code signatory status following a long struggle which at one point they had taken legal action ©IMMAF

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has been awarded World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code signatory status by the organisation following a long-running saga during which, at one point, they had taken legal action. 

The result means that IMMAF has taken an important step closer to achieving Olympic inclusion for mixed martial arts.

It makes IMMAF the first organisation to be inducted under the revised policy for acceptance of new signatories that came into effect at the beginning of 2021.

The application was reviewed in September 2020 and IMMAF is set to officially be a signatory on January 1, the same date as the policy is set to come into force.

"WADA is pleased to welcome the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation into the Clean Sport community," said Witold Bańka, President of WADA.

"In signing the Code, it joins the more than 600 sports organizations that have already pledged their support to the harmonized global anti-doping movement.

"We would particularly like to acknowledge the efforts that have been made by IMMAF to bring this to fruition.

"In order to gain approval under the terms of the revised policy, the federation needed to go through a stringent process.

"This included the assessment by independent experts of its level of good governance, a review of its application by WADA’s newly created Signatory Expert Group – which is independent from WADA Management - and the completion of an extensive Code Compliance Questionnaire to demonstrate the quality of their anti-doping program.

"This is a positive step for IMMAF and its athletes, who will now enjoy the protection afforded by the Code."

WADA had previously rejected an IMMAF bid to become a code signatory in 2019 which resulted in the latter taking legal action.

It argued that its application had been turned down because it was not recognised by the Global Association of International Sports Federations and that WADA should be an independent body.

IMMAF first implemented an anti-doping policy based on the World Anti-Doping Code and Standards in 2015. 

In-competition testing was introduced at its international Amateur MMA tournaments, commencing with the 2015 IMMAF World Championships. 

IMMAF works with the internationally renowned expert consultancy, Sporting Integrity Ltd, headed by Michele Verroken, formerly director of ethics and anti-doping, at UK Sport to develop its anti-doping policy and programme.

"As the first international sports governing body to complete WADA’s new application process, we have set a new benchmark not just for MMA, but for sport," said IMMAF President Kerrith Brown.

"Today, IMMAF can be proud that its gold standard in clean MMA has been formally recognised, guaranteeing transparency, fairness and safety to our athletes and empowering us to implement further improvements in governance.

"This sees IMMAF become the only international federation for MMA with WADA signatory status, following six years adherence to WADA compliant anti-doping regulation.

"Today’s result is not only a significant achievement for IMMAF but also for our national federations which have contributed to this journey, and it will surely strengthen their bids for national sport recognition."