As a governing body of MMA, the IMMAF has a responsibility to keep athletes safe and ensure clean sport.
The IMMAF has partnered with medical charity Safe MMA, which independently handles the clearance of athletes prior to IMMAF competitions, maintains athletes' medical records and provides medical advice to athletes.
Safe MMA's medical panel comprises a cross-disciplinary group of volunteer doctors and medical professionals, in the interests of being non-partisan and athlete-safety centered.
Under Safe MMA, athletes are required to undergo standardised medical examinations and blood tests for IMMAF competitions, including testing for diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
Competitors also undergo pre- and post- bout medical examinations, and where head trauma has occurred they are referred for mandatory brain scans. All medical records are audited and held by Safe MMA.
Safe MMA's record-keeping duties include the management of injury suspensions and return-to-play dates for competitors. This information is publicly available for reference by National Federations, private promoters and other event organisers alike.
Each IMMAF National Federation has a medical safety lead, who acts as a liaison between Safe MMA and the athlete, providing updates regarding their medical clearance status.
Anti-Doping and Athletes' Rights
The IMMAF is committed to clean sport in MMA and expects its National Federations, promoters, athletes, athlete support personnel, officials and supporters to share this responsibility to eradicate doping for the health and safety of athletes, but also for the status of the sport.
Since May 2015, the IMMAF has adopted an anti-doping policy and programme which operates in compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code. The programme has been developed to educate and inform athletes and others of their responsibilities and rights.
In January 2021, the IMMAF's Anti-Doping Athletes' Rights Act was approved by the Executive Board, on the recommendation of the IMMAF's Athletes' Commission and Anti-Doping Commission.
This new act is made up of two parts, with the first outlining the IMMAF's anti-doping policy and the second setting out how athletes' rights will be protected in regards to anti-doping.
Rights included in the act include medical treatment and the protection of health rights, the right to justice, the right to education, privacy, the right to data protection and whistleblower rights.
The act covers the right for athletes to have a "B" sample analysed when their first sample shows a positive test for a banned substance.
It also looks to give athletes a louder voice and the right to contribute towards the improvement of governance in the IMMAF. It also covers legal aid for hearings or appeals during a doping case.
Athletes have the right to train and compete in an environment free of abuse and harassment, in line with IMMAF policies and procedures. The IMMAF takes a zero tolerance approach towards the matter.
This covers the fair and respectful treatment by officials both in and outside the cage.
Allegations are independently investigated on behalf of the IMMAF.
To ensure the safety of athletes, the act covers the right to weight management support, which takes pressure off athletes who may cut their weight in an unhealthy manner in preparation for a competition.
IMMAF's safeguarding monitoring process requires athletes to choose a realistic weight category and asks coaches to be mindful of this in their training preparations.
These changes came after the introduction of the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code, which protects the rights of athletes and prioritises education and health.
The IMMAF has partnered with charities and other sports organisations in a bid to promote peace, unity and safe sport.
Peace and Sport
IMMAF's partnership with Peace and Sport was announced in April 2020 and was welcomed by President Kerrith Brown.
"MMA is a universal language recognised by youth worldwide and has proven its capacity to break boundaries and create fundamental common ground between different factions and individuals," he said.
"Mastery of MMA requires personal transformation that includes the development of self-knowledge, self-discipline, honour and respect.
"The process of training to fight within a sporting context is an effective pathway to learning the skills of negotiation and to attaining peace."
The objectives of the partnership are as follows:
- Collaboration through initiatives to promote peace, social cohesion and coexistence among communities
- Cooperation to improve living conditions for populations through MMA
- Mutual dialogue and communication between communities, using MMA and its values
- Encouragement of education, training and responsibility amongst vulnerable youth, through the practice of MMA
- Cooperation to promote, advocate and raise awareness of the power of sport for peace-building and diplomacy
Peace and Sport is an international, neutral and independent organisation based in Monaco, which promotes peace using the power of sport. It was founded in 2007 by modern pentathlon Olympic medallist and world champion Joël Bouzou, who now sits as President of the organisation.
The IMMAF joined the Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) in 2016, pledging their commitment to good governance, financial integrity and sports betting integrity by partnering with the organisation.
IMMAF is an early adopter of the SIGA Universal Standards and is subject to independent auditing of its good governance and integrity standards by SIGA.
As part of the partnership, SIGA delivers training, education and capacity building projects for the IMMAF to help the organisation make progress with integrity in sport.
SIGA is an independent and neutral coalition, bringing together sport, Governments, academia, international organisations, sponsors, business, rights holders, non-Governmental organisations and professional services companies from across the world.
IMMAF chief executive Densign White became a member of SIGA's Council in 2018, and in July 2020 joined SIGA's newly-established task force, which is dedicated to race, gender diversity and inclusion, in a bid to push for reform in sport.
The task force is in charge of proposing recommendations for SIGA as part of their Sport Integrity Week.
Some of the standards raised by SIGA that the IMMAF will look to comply with include race and gender diversity at Board level and giving staff diversity training.
Referencing disability as part of the organisation's good governance is another goal.