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Independent Arbitrator Imposes Four-Year Sanction on Swimming Athlete Kensey McMahon for Anti-Doping Rule Violation

empty pool with lanesUSADA announced today that an independent arbitrator has rendered a decision in the case of swimming athlete Kensey McMahon of Tuscaloosa, Ala. After an evidentiary hearing on May 2, 2024, where both McMahon and USADA were provided a full opportunity to present their cases and witnesses to the independent arbitrator, the arbitrator determined that McMahon will receive a four-year sanction after testing positive for vadadustat during an in-competition drug test at the Phillips 66 National Championships on July 1, 2023. McMahon and USADA mutually agreed to delay the arbitration hearing while McMahon remained provisionally suspended so that she could investigate the source of her positive test.

Vadadustat is a non-specified substance in the category of Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors, Related Substances and Mimetics and is prohibited at all times under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policies, and the World Aquatics Doping Control Rules, all of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code) and the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

In cases involving a positive test for a non-specified substance such as vadadustat, an athlete is required to prove that their use of the prohibited substance was not intentional in order to qualify for a reduction from the default four-year sanction under the rules. McMahon received a four-year sanction because she was unable to establish through concrete evidence that her violation was not intentional. The arbitrator did not conclude that McMahon intended to cheat, only that she could not meet her burden of proof under the rules.

McMahon’s four-year period of ineligibility began on July 7, 2023, the date she was provisionally suspended. In addition, McMahon has been disqualified from all competitive results on and after July 1, 2023, the date of her positive test, including forfeiture of any medals, points, and prizes.

Arbitration Decision

The decision, as well as all other arbitral decisions, can be found here.

In an effort to aid athletes, as well as support team members such as parents and coaches, in understanding the rules applicable to them, USADA provides comprehensive instruction on its website on the testing process and prohibited substances, how to file and update athlete Whereabouts, how to obtain permission to use a necessary medication, and the risks and dangers of taking supplements, as well as performance-enhancing and recreational drugs.

In addition, USADA manages a drug reference hotline, Global Drug Reference Online (GlobalDRO.com), conducts educational sessions with National Governing Bodies and their athletes, and distributes a multitude of educational materials, such as a supplement guide, a nutrition guide, a clean sport handbook, and periodic alerts and advisories.

USADA makes available a number of ways to report the abuse of performance-enhancing drugs in sport in an effort to protect clean athletes and promote clean competition. Any tip can be reported using the USADA Play Clean Tip Center, by text at 87232 (“USADA”), by email at playclean@USADA.org, by phone at 1-877-Play Clean (1-877-752-9253) or by mail.

USADA is responsible for the testing and results management process for athletes in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement and is equally dedicated to preserving the integrity of sport through research initiatives and educational programs.


For more information or media inquiries, email media@usada.org.

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