On April 22, 2019, the American Arbitration Association upheld the decision of a USA Climbing Hearing Panel to suspend an athlete until September 1, 2020. The suspension arises from two separate incidents of falsifying scorecards during the 2018-2019 competition season.
“Today is bittersweet as we take no joy in an athlete suspension; however, we also take the act of violating USA Climbing’s rules extremely seriously, including falsification of scorecards,” said Marc Norman, CEO of USA Climbing. “To all athletes, this is a clear message to compete with only the highest level of integrity and sportsmanship. USA Climbing will vigorously defend the rights of all our athletes to compete in a fair environment. Cheating will not be tolerated, but if it occurs, then we will take strong action. I would like to thank the volunteers—including the athletes—on the Judicial Committee and Hearing Panel who served on this case or who provided testimony. The countless hours dedicated to ensure competition integrity, and a fair, unbiased opportunity for those with grievances to be heard, is a great service to our sport.”
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USA Climbing filed its initial complaint on November 27, 2018, and shortly thereafter, in accordance with Article 15 of USA Climbing’s Bylaws, a hearing was held by a Hearing Panel appointed by USA Climbing’s Judicial Committee. That panel imposed a suspension until September 1, 2020, which, combined with the nullification of results at the competitions at which red cards were issued, effectively triggered a two year suspension. The athlete then requested arbitration in accordance with the Bylaws of USA Climbing and the US Olympic Committee. On April 22, the arbitrator reaffirmed the Hearing Panel’s ruling. The American Arbitration Association ruling is final and binding.
USA Climbing was represented at arbitration by Mark Gaylord and Victor Copeland at the law firm of Ballard Spahr LLP.