IMMAF Chief Executive Densign White has criticised GAISF and WADA ©IMMAF

International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) Chief Executive Densign White has criticised the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) amid its protracted battle for recognition.

The IMMAF has been constantly turned down for recognition by the GAISF, a decision which blocks its path to becoming a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Code.

In a wide-ranging rebuke of GAISF and WADA, White derided the actions of the two organisations and claimed the IMMAF's process towards recognition had been "full of contradictions".

The IMMAF is taking legal action against WADA, which has asked for the case to be dismissed as a new version of the Code is set to come into effect in January 2021.

A hearing in the case took place in Lausanne in January this year.

"IMMAF is extremely frustrated by the inconsistency of WADA’s decision-making process on who is accepted as a Code signatory," White said.

"WADA asked for the case to be thrown out since the Code is due to be changing in January 2021 to allow WADA to make its own independent decisions about signatory applications, without outside influence from the Olympic or sport movement. 

"This of course will be nice when it happens sometime next year, but there is no guarantee that this will help us. 

"We are still waiting for them to do what they should have already done four years ago."

The IMMAF is involved with an ongoing legal dispute with WADA ©Getty Images
The IMMAF is involved with an ongoing legal dispute with WADA ©Getty Images

White claimed the GAISF had been changing the goalposts when dealing with the IMMAF's bid for observer status.

He said the umbrella body had turned down its request on grounds of "non-compatibility", a term White insisted had never been mentioned before and which refers to similarities in mixed martial arts with other combat sports.

"We expressed our surprise at the 'compatibility' issue, considering the many similarities in the rules between various recognised sports," White added.

"For example: basketball, netball and korfball; tennis and soft tennis; bandy and ice hockey among others.

"We have since received a response from GAISF with an attempt to define ‘compatibility’. 

"Apparently, GAISF changed its statutes at some point to replace ‘rivalry’ with non-compatibility’ as grounds for rejecting new member applications. 

"We were not informed of this, though we had already addressed GAISF’s allegation of rivalry by merging with ‘rival’ international governing body for MMA, WMMAA, in 2018. 

"Shockingly, we discovered afterwards that WMMAA had never even applied for membership to GAISF. 

"Now this new criterion clearly gives wider scope for abuse and discrimination without good grounds."

In a statement sent to insidethegames, WADA said: "When an organisation approaches WADA with a request to become a signatory to the Code, we require information about the organisation’s governance, structure, planned or existing anti-doping activities and related budget. 

"In a second stage, as per the policy established by WADA’s Executive Committee in 2010, we have an obligation then to consult with the respective international sport federations’ umbrella organisations to discuss the matter further. 

"It is the umbrella organisations’ responsibility to advise WADA whether in accepting the organisation as a new Code signatory it would lead to a potential conflict with one of the umbrella organisation’s existing Code signatories. 

"If we receive a response from the umbrella organisation stating that a potential conflict exists, then we are simply not in a position to approve the organisation’s application.

"In this case, the umbrella organisation (GAISF) did not regard the IMMAF’s application as satisfactory in terms of potential conflicts with existing Code signatories and therefore the IMMAF application could not be approved."

The GAISF told insidethegames: "IMMAF's application to become a GAISF member is under consideration and GAISF does not comment on the detail of ongoing applications. 

"GAISF remains grateful for the opportunity to contribute WADA's revised processes for new Code signatories, together with other Olympic Movement stakeholders."