GAISF to make decision about MMA membership status

Tomorrow, Monday 28 January, the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) will decide whether to accept IMMAF‘s application for Observation Status.

Meanwhile, the World Anti-doping Agency has filed a response to IMMAF’s legal suit against it in the ordinary Swiss courts. IMMAF’s case disputes WADA’s rejection of its application to be a signatory to the code, despite full compliance.

Likewise IMMAF meets all known GAISF criteria – with the exception of WADA signatory status, which is a prerequisite to GAISF recognition. This means IMMAF has been effectively grid-locked in its progress.

In an exclusive interview with SportCal this week, IMMAF CEO Densign White, explained how “lack of recognition at a global level is holding back members at a national level” and “[GAISF membership] is critical to the very existence of our sport.”

“WADA and GAISF were working hand in hand in building a case against WADA making IMMAF a signatory.”

“..WADA is saying that MMA is very violent and dangerous and doesn’t meet Olympic values. Yet, they never officially told us about any other complaint [from an international federation] except WMMAA [World Mixed Martial Arts Association], which they sent us to resolve.”

Only one federation can be accepted to represent a sport under GAISF (though there are exceptions, such as rugby). In May last year, WADA insisted that its hands were tied over the issue of IMMAF becoming a Code Signatory. It cited GAISF’s responsibility to advise whether accepting an organisation would lead to a potential conflict with an existing Code Signatory.

Since it was recommended by GAISF that IMMAF resolve its rivalry with the World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA), the two international MMA federations went on to amalgamate last year with a full merger set for completion by the end this year.

“We told everyone, ‘Now is the time to make it known if you object to MMA'” said White, “If they [other federations] consider us a rival, they have to say so. No one has, except behind closed doors.”

White also cited that any delay in recognition is increasing the potential risk for rivalry claims to be used against the now united IMMAF- WMMAA:

“While we are not recognised, other entities are coming out of the woodwork purporting to be representing MMA globally. There were two or three just in the last week. We don’t want them [GAISF] saying, ‘What about these other people?”

Meanwhile,  IMMAF – WMMAA do not recognise any further legitimate rivals.

White hopes for positive news tomorrow, which will hopefully also peaceably resolve the dispute with WADA: “As soon as we get observer status, we will get to be a WADA signatory.”

If not, then the court case against WADA continues:

“There will be a hearing and a judge will decide. Our case is that it’s anti-competitive, against cartel laws and an infringement of personality rights. WADA is also infringing its own statutes by allowing a third party [GAISF] to make the decision for them.”

“We have to keep on pushing, lobbying and trying to persuade. We don’t want to start a legal case [against GAISF], but it’s a last resort, a possibility. But we’d rather spend our money on development and growing the sport.”

Read the full SportCal interview by Callum Marray here (£ subscription only)

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