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Updated 29 April 2016

MMA fighters face doping charges

South African Mixed Martial Arts fighters were tested positive for banned substances.

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Four South African mixed martial arts (MMA) competitors have tested positive for banned substances. This follows in- and out-of-competition testing by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS). 

The Johannesburg-based Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) organisation, which has 130 MMA athletes on its books and staged more than 100 bouts in 2015, has strongly endorsed SAIDS’s testing of its contestants. EFC president Cairo Howarth said: “We are delighted to be working with SAIDS and WADA (the World Anti-Doping Authority).

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We always have and always will strive for a safe and fair playing field for our athletes. EFC was the first MMA organisation in the world to officially align with WADA.”

He added: “Doping is a reality in modern sport and can only be combated effectively if all stakeholders work together, and EFC will do as much as possible to assist SAIDS and WADA in this process.” SAIDS chief executive officer Khalid Galant said that EFC’s approach to having its athletes tested was “admirable and refreshing”.

“It’s openness is a credit to the organisation and the sport. There are many sports administrators who could learn from its approach, which ultimately ensures that all competitors are on a level playing field,” said Galant. Howarth explained that “months of preparation and training go into preparing for a single bout, and stakeholders need to do as much as possible to ensure that it is a fair and safe contest”.

The athletes who returned adverse analytical findings (positive tests) are:

• Mario Ferreira of Pretoria, who was found to have the diuretic Hydroclorothothiazide in his system when tested in-competition on July 11 last year. Diuretics are prohibited because they have been used by athletes to gain an unfair advantage, especially in sports with weight categories. They assist with rapid weight loss or to mask the presence of other banned substances.  


• Cole Henning of Pretoria, who was found to have the stimulant Methylhexaneamine in his system when tested in-competition on July 11. Stimulants are generally used by athletes on the day of competition to improve performance.

• Gary Smit of Ramsgate, who was found to have the following anabolic agents in his system: 2α-methyl-5α-androstan-3α-ol-17-one, 19-norandrosterone and testosterone. He was tested in-competition on August 8 last year. Anabolic steroids which are typically used to increase muscle mass and improve athletic performance.

• Peter Nyide of Durban, who was found to have the diuretic Hydrochlorothiazide in his system when tested in-competition on October 3.
All four have been suspended pending hearings. They face possible bans of four years for a first offence.

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“We thank SAIDS for their thorough testing protocols and helping us keep MMA to a clean and ethical standard,” said Howarth. “Although suspended, the athletes in question remain in the EFC at this time and we will await the outcome of the hearings prior to making any decisions on their future with the organisation.”

“EFC has pioneered the way forward for anti-doping in Mixed Martial Arts internationally by becoming the first MMA organisation in the world to officially align with WADA, and we are looking forward to continuing to make MMA the safest and most exciting combat sport in the world,” he added. EFC has over 130 exclusively contacted athletes from across the globe, hosting 10 events per year with around 12 bouts per event. MMA is widely considered to be one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

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