French doping watchdog raises alarm over mixed martial arts

Doping in French mixed martial arts has reached "the alert level", the head of the country's Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) warned on Thursday, AFP reports.

"We can say that the level of alert has been passed by this discipline," AFLD secretary general Jeremy Roubin said. The number of positive doping cases in MMA in France in 2023 was 11% - 10 times higher than the usual ratio.

"There is a national MMA, and it's not necessarily this one causing most concern, but rather the MMA's professional circuit," Roubin told a press conference. 

As in all combat sports, a substance "can make certain athletes go out of control, placing in danger the opposing fighter" he pointed out. "We are already beginning to see an evolution. The setting up of more frequent controls and at the same time an educational programme is beginning to bear fruit," said AFLD president Beatrice Bourgeois.

Aside from MMA, kickboxing and weightlifting were among the other sports with high positive cases. The AFLD conducted 12,000 dope tests in 2023 with rugby (0.64% of positive cases), cycling (0.86%), athletics (0.58%) and football (0.39%) the most tested.

The AFLD will be heavily involved in dope testing under the aegis of the International Testing Agency at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.