A key area of any sport is the prevention of performance-enhancing drug use. This is important to level the playing field, and in combat sports, also helps to ensure athlete safety.
Michele Verroken has led IMMAF’s anti-doping and integrity work since 2005, and continues to provide expert consultancy as the organisation closes in on achieving signatory status with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
As WADA significantly changed its Code this year, IMMAF has been working hard to adjust. Anti-doping seminars were held to “update and upskill national federations in terms of their obligations to compliance,” said Michele.
While IMMAF closes in on its long term goal of achieving WADA Code Signatory status Michele said the federation is “continuing to build good relationships with National Anti-Doping Organisations and WADA accredited laboratories to deliver WADA-compliant anti-doping testing programmes at major championships.”
IMMAF’s application to join the WADA Code Signatory was accepted and the federation has now completed the Code Compliance Questionnaire and a decision by WADA could be made before the end of 2021.But while big steps forward were taken in 2021, IMMAF CEO Design White made it clear that anti-doping involves constant commitment: “becoming a signatory to the Code is not the end of the process but the beginning, and the overall process will require huge investment of both financial and human resources.”
The Anti-doping area of the website is regularly updated to ensure all members and athletes have access to the relevant information.
WADA continually updates its policies on anti-doping, so it is vital all members of IMMAF are educated on the most recent changes.
The Athletes and Support Personnel Anti-Doping Guide was updated for the 2021 World Championships to include the latest relevant information. Athletes must be informed and educated first before being exposed to an anti-doping testing programme, in accordance with the International Standard for Education and IMMAF’s Anti-Doping Advisor’s policy.
During the technical seminar in March 2021, in-depth discussions were held around how anti-doping relates to safe weight management. Weight variation is useful data for anti-doping intelligence, so can be used as a tool in the prevention of drug cheating.
A review group will continue to update the educational resources available to IMMAF members.
The current level of testing is modest due to the high financial cost, however, 2 events this year included anti-doping testing, with 40 tests carried out.
Out-of-competition testing is not yet feasible due to funding, but “monitoring of changes to the rankings list help to inform how a Registered Testing Pool could operate and give effective coverage once funds are available.”
Anti-doping rule violations are published in line with the WADA Code on the IMMAF website.
Preventing the use of performance-enhancing drugs is about defending the rights of clean athletes. IMMAF this year continued efforts to ensure a stringent testing process, and will continue this work into 2022.