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Ina Prepares to Fight Ban

Olympic pairs skater says she was misled about consequences of being unable to produce urine sample.

October 22, 2002|Helene Elliott | Times Staff Writer

Saying she had been unable to produce a urine sample for a drug test during an unannounced, late-night visit to her home by a representative of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and had been misled about the consequences, three-time U.S. Olympic pairs skater Kyoko Ina plans to fight the $1-million fine and lifetime suspension she faces from the International Skating Union.

The USADA ruled that Ina had refused to be tested July 18 and followed the same adjudication process as when an athlete tests positive for banned substances. Ina appealed the finding to the American Arbitration Assn. and lost, but her lawyer said they will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"The decision is not supported by law and facts," attorney Edward Williams said Monday from New York. "It's abusive."

Ina contends that a chain of procedural blunders tainted the testing process. She said the representative's credential had expired four months earlier. Ina said she was unaware of that at the time, however, and admitted the woman to her Greenwich, Conn., home because "I knew her, so I assumed the credentials were legal."

Ina also said the woman had been unfamiliar with rules relating to testing procedures and had been accompanied by a man who did not work for the agency but acted as if he did.

"They have my career in their hands," Ina said. "It's all so bizarre."

Terry Madden, chief executive officer of the USADA, said in a statement that the sanction was appropriate but declined further comment until the AAA panel releases its opinion.

The national governing bodies of Olympic sports give the USADA lists of potential testing candidates. Athletes can be tested at competitions and during surprise visits.

Ina, who teamed with John Zimmerman to finish fifth at Salt Lake City and finished fourth in the 1998 Games and ninth in 1994 with Jason Dungjen, said she has passed dozens of tests.

Ina said the USADA representative and a companion arrived at 10:30 p.m. as she was preparing for bed. After 45 minutes, unable to provide enough urine for a sample, she said she asked if the testing could be performed the next day at her training rink in Hackensack, N.J. She said the agent called a supervisor but got no response, and a call to the USADA's 24-hour hotline was not answered.

"She told me I had to sign a paper saying I refused to give a sample and told me [the penalty] would be a two-year suspension," Ina said. "Then I find out it's four years to life. There are so many discrepancies and so many questions she didn't have the proper answers for. I didn't refuse to sign or take the test."

Ina and Zimmerman signed with Stars on Ice and will lose their Olympic eligibility if they perform with the show. However, they could have competed in pro-am competitions and other ISU-approved events.

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