On Tuesday IMMAF.org reported that the national team tryouts in France for the 2016 IMMAF World Championships took a surprising turn when the French Anti-doping Agency arrived unannounced to test the athletes.
Hosted by the Commission Française de Mixed Martial Arts (CFMMA), France’s Member Federation to IMMAF, the team trials took place last weekend on Sunday 31 January at the Paris Fight Team headquarters.
CFMMA President Bertrand Amoussou explained that Anti-doping officials arrived just 15 minutes before the start of training, at 7:45am. With more than 60 athletes taking part in the training session, 12 participants were tested.
Amoussou reports being told by Anti-doping officials that positive results would lead to a four year ban for the respective athletes. While the French government’s participation in MMA governance is welcomed by both the IMMAF and the CFMMA, the legality and intentions of the testing is unclear with the process having not conformed to proper practice.
In government recognised sports, which does not include MMA at this time, the governing body would be contacted with the results of the tests. However, the CFMMA is not recognised by the French government, and nor were all of the participants registered as members or athletes. Many attendees were unknowns and purely recreational participants at this stage prior to official selection.
IMMAF’s Anti-doping advisers have indicated that typically, the governing body would be expected to force a ban on any athletes caught using performance enhancing drugs. However, since those tested are not all members of CFMMA it is difficult to see how any ban could be enforced.
The CFMMA President added: “It is usual for athletes to be prepared for Anti-doping tests, to have been educated around risks and to be in possession of a banned substances list. As the participants attending the open tryouts have not been educated around this, it is likely they will not have scrutinised any medicines or high street supplements they may have taken or be aware of any risks of contamination.”
IMMAF President Kerrith Brown gave further insight, highlighting concerns surrounding the questionable events.
“It’s not normal considering that the CFMMA are not recognized by the French government as a sporting body. The nature of how it was concluded is a bit bizarre. It’s not normal for the sports authorities of France to prepare an operation like this for something that is not recognized. It’s a costly procedure but as we’re not signed up with this organisation we’re not privy to its intentions or processes.”
The IMMAF President mirrored Amoussou’s concerns for protecting recreational attendees.
“This was an open trial training session for all comers, including purely recreational athletes who are not registered as competitors. Any recreational athletes who are selected by the French body will be invited to sign up as competitors and would then be subject to drug testing through proper procedures.”
IMMAF carries out WADA compliant doping tests at all its championship events and the French team will expect to be tested alongside other teams at the 2016 World Championships, which is billed to take place in Las Vegas this summer. IMMAF is also currently working for official recognition from WADA and to develop an out-of-competition testing programme for its athletes.
Brown continued, “Legally it’s an unclear situation as you can’t ban athletes, including some who are only recreational, from a sport that you don’t officially recognize. A number of the non-competitive attendees would not yet have been briefed on Anti-doping and as a result could be using medication, for example, that happens to be on the banned substance list. In the event of any confusion it’s important for us to protect the athletes who were tested.”
The IMMAF and CFMMA are in the process of seeking full cooperation with officials who ordered the testing. Despite the confusion, Brown indicated that this seeming act of recognition for MMA by the French government is indeed a positive step.
“The IMMAF requests full clarification regarding the thought process of testing athletes in a sport that is not recognized by the French government. The French sport authorities must be accountable for their actions and so the CFMMA will pursue a full explanation to get a better understanding of the intentions behind this.
“To highlight a failed test would be a victory for Anti-doping and it’s great to see such efforts being made. However, from what we know, the process was significantly incomplete. Nevertheless, the IMMAF are encouraged by these efforts and welcome the fact that France’s government are showing acknowledgement for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.”
Written by IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran