With the objective to professionalise their sport and focus on promoting clean fights only, GAMMA has decided to delegate its anti-doping program to the ITA. This includes an initial risk assessment taking into account the specific physiology of the combat sport, that in turn constitutes the basis of an intelligence-led test distribution planning for in-competition testing. Furthermore, the ITA will handle GAMMA’s results management, take over the handling of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) and raise the awareness for clean sport amongst their MMA athletes through event-based and virtual education programs.
The ITA is aware of the complex landscape of the field of mixed martial arts and other combat sports making it challenging for athletes affiliated to these organisations to potentially be subject to different sets of rules. In line with the new policy issued by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on 23 October 2020 and entering into force on 1 January 2021, GAMMA has indicated its willingness to become a World Anti-Doping Code Signatory. Under this new policy, GAMMA will be assessed by the WADA Management and a newly created “Signatory Expert Group”, comprised of one representative from the sports movement and one from the public authorities, as well as an independent chair.
The ITA will therefore be attentive to a future WADA decision made with respect to GAMMA’s signatory status. In the meantime, as a not-for-profit independent foundation tasked to fight doping in sport, the ITA must support any organisation seeking assistance with its anti-doping operations and help protect all athletes, irrespective of their sport, country or affiliation, to take part in doping-free competitions.
“The ITA has a broad expertise in managing anti-doping programs for combat sports. As part of our mandate to fight doping independently, we stand ready to support any organisation with its anti-doping efforts. We look forward to assisting GAMMA and providing them with the needed expertise and independence to establish a robust anti-doping program”, says ITA Director General Benjamin Cohen.
“By signing the agreement, we show that the sport of MMA welcomes an independent body for doping controls and sanctioning. With the ITA agreement, GAMMA can ensure the independence of the program, but more importantly, it shows its determination to fight against doping. Through ITA we have the highest level of expertise on clean sport available. This is the first step to facilitate synergies with other mixed martial arts promotions to promote harmonised anti-doping efforts under the ITA umbrella. Promotions have with the ITA – GAMMA agreement now a solution”, says GAMMA President Alexander Engelhardt.
The Global Martial Arts Association (GAMMA) is the world governing body for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. GAMMA is headed by its President, Alexander Engelhardt and based in The Netherlands. GAMMA is a non-profit sport federation with national recognised federations across five continents. As MMA continues to grow in popularity around the world, we need to ensure the values of MMA are promoted and GAMMA’s focus is on raising the quality of MMA as a sport globally. We are working to develop and implement initiatives to promote the values of the sport and work with Member National Associations to establish quality development programmes and pathways.