A dispute between the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) and the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) has stepped-up after the former announced the filing of a lawsuit against the latter in Lausanne.
It follows WADA's continued rejection of IMMAF applications to became a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Code.
The martial arts body will not be accepted by other sporting groups, such as the Global Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (GAISF), unless they are Code compliant.
"IMMAF is disputing the rejection of its application to become a WADA signatory on the grounds of infringement to its personality rights according to Swiss law," claimed a statement.
"Although IMMAF meets all WADA criteria, the Agency which was founded to independently protect and support participant safety in sport, rejected IMMAF’s application.
"The sole reason given was rebuttal by other recognised International Sports Federations, mainly combat sports federations."
They claim that their access to Government funding and other sources of revenue is reduced by the lack of international recognition.
"WADA received a complete application from the IMMAF in 2016 to become a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code," the anti-doping body said in their last statement on the issue last year.
"As is standard process, and as mandated by WADA’s Executive Committee, WADA reviewed the application from the IMMAF, and subsequently consulted the appropriate International Federations’ umbrella organisations.
"The umbrella organisations did not regard the IMMAF’s application as satisfactory, and therefore we were not in a position to advance talks further."
WADA declined to give an up-to-date response when contacted by insidethegames;
IMMAF chief executive Densign White claimed to be "disappointed" that they have been left with "no alternative" besides legal action.
"Attaining signatory status to the WADA code is important to IMMAF, as it validates our work and empowers us to regulate," he added.
"Without WADA recognition, IMMAF’s sanctions are easily bypassed with a resulting detrimental impact on our athletes, their safety and the sport of MMA.
"By refusing our application WADA strips IMMAF of its ability to ensure a clean sport, which runs contrary to its purpose."