Last week, an odd story involving ONE Championship and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) arose.
In it, UFC veteran Will Chope had posted an accusatory Facebook post that ONE’s supposed testing ‘through WADA’ was not exactly truthful:
“If you read the article, you’ll realize the title is bullshit.
“Supposedly they will be doing tests according to WADA standards. That doesn’t mean WADA is doing them. It means their own officials will be doing the tests. Just. Like ONE hires their own refs, and judges for their shows….. It’s bullshit and biased. If ONE wants to ever get to the level of the UFC then they need a 3rd party to sanction their tests and shows….. But I doubt that will ever happen. ONE has an agenda. And as long as they are sanctioning themselves they can favor gyms and fighters.
“I’m going to drop some inside knowledge and tell you the urine tests get sent to a lab in Taiwan. The doctor who tests these is a paid doctor that’s been working with ONE for years. Everyone knows ONE athletes are juiced. But this style of testing will allow ONE to hide results of guys they don’t want to be dirty and to throw guys that they don’t care about that are dirty under the bus. You can’t self-regulate privately and be non-biased and if you do self regulate it has to be public…….which it’s not! #F—kONE!”
Threatening Legal Action
ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong seemed amicable enough in his own since-deleted response on Facebook. He even thanked Chope and said he wasn’t looking to fight in any fashion. The exec told onlookers to stay tuned for a ‘big announcement’ as ONE announced their fighter testing through WADA:
Indeed, ONE’s rumored partnership with WADA has been discussed since earlier this year. Sityodtong made some bold claims about it a press conference for ONE: Hero’s Ascent on January 21. In them, he said ONE would engage in ‘full-out’ WADA testing in 2019:
“I’ll be announcing the details. It is true that we began doing WADA testing actually last year, and so we will be announcing this year. Good news is, last year, we did a lot of tests and 95, 97% of our athletes came out clean, and so we are just now in this, ramping up, but this year is going to be full-out WADA testing.”
However, things soon became more serious for Chope when he publicly doubted those claims. ONE sent him a letter imploring him to take down his accusations or otherwise face potential legal action from the promotion. Chope ultimately chose to take it down to avoid any blowback in his residence of Thailand.
As for ONE’s upcoming involvement with WADA, the anti-doping giant doesn’t seem as optimistic. In a statement to The Body Lock, WADA Manager of Media Relations and Communications Maggie Durand addressed the increasingly bizarre situation:
“We were recently made aware of these claims. ONE Championship was not and is not a WADA Code Signatory – therefore they do not fall under our remit.”
In order to become a WADA Code Signatory, the official WADA website states an entity must adhere to their code, written as “[t]he World Anti-Doping Code (Code) is the core document that harmonizes anti-doping policies, rules and regulations within sport organizations and among public authorities around the world. It works in conjunction with six International Standards which aim to foster consistency among anti-doping organizations in various areas: testing; laboratories; Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs); the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods; the protection of privacy and personal information; and Code Compliance by Signatories.”
ONE has not yet subscribed to that code, meaning their testing is not under WADA supervision. Durand also addressed Sityodtong’s claim that ONE’s testing would be ‘through WADA’ by pointing out that WADA themselves are not an actual testing agency:
“We would also point out that WADA is not a testing agency.”
Testing At WADA Labs Is Not Enough
Durand then pointed out that while ONE may conduct their testings based on WADA standards, WADA themselves could not guarantee it was WADA compliant:
“Some non-signatory sports organizations model their anti-doping rules and testing programs on the model rules and guidelines and International Standards that WADA makes publicly available to our stakeholders on our website. It may be that ONE Championship have decided to model their program based on these documents, but as they are not Code Signatories and do not fall under our remit, we cannot be certain of their rules or program and if either are (sic) WADA compliant.”
And even if ONE’s samples are tested at WADA-accredited facilities, that doesn’t mean it was done as any part of a WADA-approved program or partnership. Again, it all went back to adhering to WADA’s code and become a WADA Signatory:
“While conducting testing in a WADA-accredited Laboratory certainly indicates that the laboratory is WADA-standard, it does not mean that the testing is being conducted as part of any WADA-approved program. Our accredited laboratories may conduct testing for clients other than WADA Signatories in accordance with the International Standard for Laboratories; however, this does not associate their clients to WADA in any way.”
No Plans For ONE/WADA Partnership
Asked point-blank if there were any plans for an anti-doping partnership between ONE and WADA, Durand confirmed there indeed were not:
“Not for the time being.”
Several combat sports organizations are WADA Code Signatories/ They include the World Association of Kickboxing Organization (WAKO), the World Karate Federation (WKF), International Federation of Muaythai Amateur (IFMA), Federation International Amateur Sambo (FIAS), and more. It doesn’t appear, however, that ONE Championship will be joining that list anytime soon.