Sanction Modified in Kyoko Ina USADA Case

Kyoko Ina and partner John Zimmerman

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced Thursday that Kyoko Ina of Greenwich, Conn., an athlete and three-time Olympian in the sport of figure skating, has agreed to a two-year sanction under the United States Olympic Committee's (USOC) Anti-Doping Policies which provide that "any athlete who has not provided advance written notice of retirement to USADA and then refuses to participate in a USADA NAN test claiming retirement, shall be 'ineligible' within the meaning of [the policy] . . . for a period of 2 years following such refusal," beginning on Jan. 15, 2003.

Under the sanction, Ina will not be eligible to participate in Olympic Games, trials or qualifying events; be a member of an Olympic team, or have access to the training facilities of an Olympic Training Center or other programs and activities of the USOC. Ina will otherwise be able to continue her career as a professional skater. This sanction replaces the previously announced four-year suspension for a refusal to test by an active skater pursuant to the International Skating Union (ISU) rules.

In accordance with the USADA Protocol, Ina's alleged refusal to test case was heard by a three-member American Arbitration Association (AAA)/North American Court of Arbitration for Sport arbitration panel (CAS Panel). During the AAA/CAS Panel hearing, the panel considered awarding a sanction under the USOC Anti-Doping Policies but was precluded from doing so by Ina's counsel's position that the USOC Anti-Doping Policies were not applicable and that the case should be decided under the International Skating Union (ISU) Anti-Doping Regulations with the resulting four-year suspension from competition or no suspension at all.

On this point, the majority of the AAA/CAS Panel wrote: "This panel would have had to reconcile or harmonize [the USOC anti-doping policy and the ISU rules], but for the submissions of counsel for Ms. Ina that retirement was not an issue."

Subsequent to the hearing, Ina's counsel clarified that he took this position based on his belief that Ina had not been charged with a violation of the USOC Anti-Doping Policies. USADA never contested the potential resolution of this matter on the basis of a limited two-year period of ineligibility under the USOC Anti-Doping Policies. The majority AAA/CAS Panel decision directed that under ISU rules Ina be suspended from competition for a period of four years.

Following the AAA/CAS Panel decision, Ms. Ina filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which now will be withdrawn.

During the attempted test on July 18, 2002, and as substantiated at the hearing, there was some confusion regarding whether Ina had retired from amateur competition prior to the attempted test. Although Ina, at the time of the attempted test, stated she no longer intended to compete in Olympic competition, she had not yet properly retired from skating competition. If she had indeed retired without providing the required written notice to USADA and the U.S. Figure Skating Association (USFSA) then her failure to provide a sample would only have been a violation of the USOC Anti-Doping Policies. However, it would not have resulted in a violation of the ISU rules.

In reaching this resolution, Ina stated: "I am glad to have this matter finally behind me. At the time the USADA Doping Control Officer came to my home to test me, there was confusion in my mind as to my obligation to produce a sample in view of my intention to participate in open skating events and retire from Olympic competition. I now understand, and hope that all athletes will learn from this, that there is an obligation to undergo testing when contacted by a USADA Doping Control Officer, notwithstanding an intention, not yet communicated to USADA, to withdraw from USADA's No-Advance-Notice testing program because of retirement from Olympic competition. I am pleased that even though I violated the USOC's Anti-Doping Policy, the Hearing Panel found that I did not intend to violate the anti-doping rules. I have the utmost respect for USADA's mission and I appreciate the cooperation extended by USADA in reaching this resolution. During the hearing process, I was treated fairly by the AAA/CAS Panel and USADA."