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Referee Ethics Complaints

The following procedures are used for making and disposing of complaints against USA Fencing referees whom a complainant accuses of breaching the Referee Code of Ethics at a NAC, JOs, Summer Nationals or any local or regional event:

          A.   Any USA Fencing member may make a complaint against a USA Fencing licensed referee.

          B.  The complaint must be in writing and sent to the RC Chair.  Alternatively, at events with an assigned Referee Coordinator, complaints may be submitted to the Referee Coordinator for forwarding to the appropriate authority.

          C.  The complaint must include at least:  (1) the referee’s name, (2) the tournament and competition at which the alleged breach occurred, (3) the date and place of the alleged breach, (4) the names and contact information of the complainant and any witnesses to the alleged breach, (5) and a detailed account of the alleged breach.

          D.  If the complaint is made during a competition, the Referee Coordinator (or the head referee in the absence of a Referee Coordinator) (an “Authorized Official”) shall deliver a copy to the accused referee and may remove the referee from all or part of the remaining competition and tournament where the alleged breach occurred if after due inquiry (including allowing the accused referee to respond to the complaint) the Authorized Official concludes that a reasonable probability exists that an actual serious infraction has been reported by the complainant. The Authorized Official’s ruling shall be in writing and shall be considered an interim determination without prejudice to later proceedings.  The Authorized Official may require that payments to the accused referee of per diem and honorarium be suspended pending final determination of the complaint.  If the complaint is ultimately upheld, the referee may be required to forfeit all or part of the per diem and honorarium payments and may be required to reimburse the organizer for hotel and transportation expenses.

Once the complaint is received by the RC Chair, the following procedure will be followed:

1    The RC Chair will determine, within ten (10) business days, whether or not a pre-hearing suspension, in addition to any that may have been given by the Authorized Official at the time of the complaint, is warranted while the investigation is ongoing. This suspension may include but is not limited to suspension from international events and NACs.

2   The RC Chair will seek the statements of witnesses identified by the parties as well as others who are identified during the investigation.

3   The RC Chair will notify the accused referee of the complaint and provide the referee with a copy of it and establish a preliminary timetable for the process.

4   The accused referee will be requested to provide a response that may include witnesses (including contact information) to support the referee.

a.       In addition to the written statements, the referee may request a telephonic hearing, in which event the RC Chair shall arrange that one be promptly scheduled and held.

b.       Should the referee fail to respond to the request within the time designated by the RC Chair (not less than 10 business days), that referee will be suspended from all USA Fencing competitions until the Ethics Committee makes its ruling, for failure to cooperate.

5   The RC Chair will contact all of the witnesses for statements.  All statements will be forwarded to the members of an Ethics Tribunal selected by the RC Chair, consisting of one athlete who competes at NACs, JOs or the Summer Nationals and who is at least 18 years of age, one referee who does not have conflicts with the parties or witnesses and the RC Chair.

6   The Ethics Tribunal will determine whether a breach of ethics has occurred on the basis of the evidence gathered.  In its proceedings, the Ethics Tribunal shall accord the accused referee all due process rights to which the referee may be entitled under USA Fencing Bylaws, the Ted Stevens Amateur and Olympic Sports Act and the USOC Due Process Guidelines.   The complainant has the burden of proof.  The complainant may appoint a representative to present the case on complainant’s behalf.  The complainant and the referee must gather and present evidence to the Tribunal.   The Tribunal’s decision and the grounds therefore, and any sanctions imposed by the Tribunal and the reasons therefore, shall be set forth in a written report.  The Tribunal shall have the right to dismiss, at any point in the proceedings, a complaint it determines to be frivolous or made in bad faith.  It may sanction a party who presents frivolous or bad faith complaints.

a.   If no breach is found to have occurred, the referee and the complainant will be informed of the Tribunal’s decision.  In the event of exoneration of the referee any suspended payments will be released and the referee will be restored to good standing.

b   If the Tribunal finds a breach of ethics, the Tribunal will also determine the sanctions to be imposed.

c   The referee, the complainant, any official who issued a summary finding  and the Executive Director of USA Fencing will be informed of the Tribunal’s decision.

7.  The referee may appeal the decision of the Ethics Tribunal by making a written appeal to the full RC, within 15 days of the Tribunal issuing its decision.  Upon receipt of a timely appeal, the RC Chair will distribute the Tribunal’s report and the information the Tribunal used to make its decision, including a summary of statements made at the hearing, if any, to all members of the RC.  The RC will then make a final decision, which result shall not be more punitive than that reached by the Tribunal.  The RC Chair shall recuse him/herself from the deliberation and decision-making of the RC.

To file a complaint, email