By President Kerrith Brown OLY
After six years of hard political and legal battles, IMMAF has been awarded WADA Code Signatory. It’s the first organisation to achieve this under the revised policy for Acceptance of New Signatories which has set the bar even higher than in the past.
A lot of work was put into getting that finalised. We were especially pushing to get it signed before Christmas and were successful in getting it signed off which was great news. It’s also great for IMMAF and what it means for the national federations pushing for recognition. IMMAF achieving WADA signatory status gives federations clout in the processes within their governmental structure. Aiding their fight to be recognised as a sport at a national level.
What is interesting about this is that we are a non-Olympic sport and not even recognised as a sport by GAISF. Yet we have achieved this. Despite not being a recognised sport or governing body we’ve been accepted by WADA – which is one of the toughest applications you can make to be compliant as a clean sport.
What this does is undermine the political game that has been taking place in GAISF. The politics in GAISF is that we are being held back because of political divisions caused by certain members. They are holding back because they are afraid of how our sport will impact their international federation or sport or athletes. Which I think is unfair in terms of fair competition.
You could say we are probably ahead of the game byf achieving this signatory. But at the same time, we are still being held back because of politics.
The application for WADA itself is a more stringent application process under the new terms. Which I believe is fair and transparent and shows the integrity that Bańka brings to the organisation. It puts them in good stead. This is great for all international bodies, to feel comfortable that they are affiliated with WADA and the policies that come with it.
As for our Federations and the sport, the message is clear: we want to educate athletes to be clean athletes. And we should be promoting that at every level, especially from my own experience. I already encourage that, be it amateur or pro. And the fact that we are leading from an amateur perspective. That’s an important message that we should be proud of and the influence it may have on the whole industry.
To help better educate the athletes and coaches, we will follow all the educational programs that we are signed up to. At the World Championships, we will have a seminar for the athletes to reinforce the education around anti-doping.
It is ongoing education and is something we never had back in 1984-88 when I was an international competitor. Now that this education is available, you must be educating the athletes, from even as young as 12, especially if they are competing on the international stage.
The earlier we educate them, the better, rather than leaving it too late. A primary target will be coaches. They will be the ones who have more of an influence on the athletes from a young age. They should be responsible for the development of athletes. Therefore, they should be knowledgeable about anti-doping.