IMMAF CEO gives further insight into IV ban following Association of Boxing Commissions convention

Densign White, CEO of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF), was recently invited by Frank Babcock, IMMAF Director & USA Mixed Martial Arts Federation (UMMAF) President and Ryan Brueggeman, UMMAF Director of Operations, to the 2015 Annual Convention of the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) in San Diego, USA. The main objective of their trip was to further inform and introduce various state commissioners to both IMMAF and UMMAF, and their international role in supporting Amateur MMA globally. The IMMAF heads were also present for discussions regarding Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs), which soon turned into a discussion of the upcoming ban on IV rehydration, a current hot topic in the world of MMA. IV or Intravenous Rehydration is a regular procedure for many high profile MMA fighters, as well those of a grass roots level, following a weigh in. Fighters insert a lead into a vein that feeds a Sodium Chloride solution into their bloodstream, to aid recovery from their weight cut and rehydrate their bodies. The habitual procedure is often carried out by the athletes themselves, a coach or a hired medical expert despite medical warnings regarding possible complications and infection, especially when outside of a clinically controlled environment. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibits “intravenous infusions and/or injections of more than 50 mL per 6 hour period except for those legitimately received in the course of hospital admissions, surgical procedures or clinical investigations,” and the practice is listed under “Chemical and Physical Manipulation” in WADA’s 2015 Prohibited List. With the new UFC Anti-doping partnership with USADA (who adhere to the standards set by WADA) coming in to force, the official ban is expected to hit MMA later in the year. While it’s WADA’s primary goal to keep athletes operating as naturally as is possible, IV rehydration is considered to be an unnatural manipulation of the body’s chemical balance, in contrast to the more natural process of simply drinking water. From a medical safety perspective, Safe MMA (UK) representative, Dr. Jack Kreindler, has previously commented: “Weight cutting to the point that IV fluid replacement is required puts people at risk. In hospitals, IV fluid replacement is performed only under controlled and supervised, sterile conditions where vital signs, blood chemistry and kidney function is continually measured before during and after fluid replacement with the correct fluids. Anyone having IV’s without such facilities and expertise is in danger of infection, harm or death and anyone encouraging weight cutting requiring administering IV’s may be putting fighter health and lives at risk.” Widespread speculation among fighters around the issue has developed over recent months, including frustration and questions as to how fighters will rehydrate without the use of IV. Meanwhile, USADA officials reiterate shared medical thought in saying that the necessity of an IV infusion to speed recovery from “mild dehydration” is not supported by “medical literature,” in the first place. IMMAF CEO, Densign White, explained how the decision is believed to be for the greater good, according to discussions at the ABC meeting. “A discussion on PEDs very quickly turned to the issue of IV abuses,” White explained. “I cannot say at this stage that it is banned. People are still doing it very openly and there is still work going on to find tests that will accurately determine if an athlete has been using IV for rehydration purposes.” “There is no doubt that dramatic weight loss is a risk to health. Anyone who needs to go to these extremes needs to move to the next category. The benefits are that we will avoid the many detrimental health issues that can follow including death.” White confirmed that a number of reasons for the ban were covered, from the possibility of inserting additional banned substances or masking agents in the bloodstream via the IV, to the simple fact that it encourages fighters to attempt greater and potentially damaging weight cuts. Some fighters may not be able to complete tougher weight cuts following the ban, but they will avoid the risks and strain on the body. The IMMAF CEO added that general health risks that come with the procedure are also an issue, such as chemical imbalance if not properly monitored, but added, “I understand many athletes that use this method are employing medical professionals to do the procedure.” Interestingly, White revealed that implementation of the ban still faces a hurdle; a test to determine if it has been used by fighters is yet to be developed. IMMAF has its own anti-doping policy which can be seen online and this information has been distributed to all Federation members who are expected to implement this policy on their national level. IMMAF’s objective is to become a signatory to the WADA code and have taken the first steps with the WADA compliant anti-doping policy, which have been accepted in full, including all of the recommended sanctions. Therefore, IMMAF will be working with the UFC to eradicate the use of IV rehydration. What are your thoughts on the IV ban? [/spb_text_block]

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