The penultimate day of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s 2021 Technical Seminar Week featured sessions on ‘Doping Risks and Anti-Doping Solutions’ with Consultant Michele Verroken of Sporting Integrity, and ‘Regulatory Pathways and Officials Development in MMA’ with Regulatory Affairs Director and international referee, Marc Goddard.

Michele Verroken commented: “We believe at IMMAF that cheating has no place in the sport. We’ve prioritised the education of members so they understand what their responsibilities and liabilities are.”

Verroken stressed the onus of responsibility on athletes, coaches and parents to be well informed about both the risks and implications of a doping offence, which under some national laws can lead to imprisonment. She pointed at the duty of national federations to provide members with the right guidance and resources to support appropriate diet and performance programmes. Verroken detailed the issue of supplement blends not always having ingredients properly listed, as well as the risks of consuming CBD, which has the probability of containing prohibited substances. She asked, “If you really need a supplement to compete, are you really an athlete?”. The Anti-doping expert also informed members that the completion of WADA ADeL courses will soon be mandatory for participants of IMMAF Championships.

In Regulatory Pathways and Officials Development in MMA, Marc Goddard described the necessity of officials’ training pathways and professional development that form part of the regulatory framework for the sport. He cited licensed officials who have gone through IMMAF’s programme to officiate for the UFC and other premier, commercial promoters.

Goddard commented: “Referees and judges shouldn’t be an afterthought. The selection of officials for events should always remain at the forefront. The sport of mixed martial arts is still in its infancy and IMMAF is at the forefront of developing and standardising the sport.”

Marc also announced his new online education platform, due to launch in May 2021, for the theoretical part of an official’s training. He likened it to the theory section of a driving examination, after which completion of a practical component will still be necessary. He embraced the educational opportunities that digital platforms have created in a COVID-19 environment to attain a larger international reach, democratising access to resources and events.

In the closing Q&A, he also announced the new scoring platform technology that IMMAF is currently developing for officials’ use at events.

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