Kensey McMahon Gives Candid Perspective on 4-Year Ban for Positive Doping Test

Kensey McMahon is an NCAA Champion from 2023 and a world championship medalist. On June 4, 2024, it was reported that McMahon had received a 4-year suspension by USADA after testing positive for a banned substance (Vadadustat).

Kensey came on the SwimSwam podcast to give her perspective not only on the positive test and verdict itself but also on the process of trying to investigate this situation. McMahon speaks to the 2+ decades she’s put into swimming, the recent doping scandal involving 23 Chinese athletes, and getting an invitation to compete in the Enhanced Games.

  • 0:00 Kensey McMahon Introduction 1:11 Receiving 4-Year Ban
  • 7:50 Conducting Investigation into Positive Test
  • 12:55 Enhanced Games
  • 14:56 Changing the System
  • 16:25 Conversation with Travis Tygart
  • 17:39 Chinese Doping Scandal
  • 20:04 Commentors Quick to Judge
  • 22:00 Drug Testing by USADA
  • 26:13 Support from Swimming Community
  • 28:44 Moving forward through this process
  • 33:35 Reflecting on Kensey’s Swimming Journey

SWIMSWAM PODCAST LINKS

In the SwimSwam Podcast dive deeper into the sport you love with insider conversations about swimming. Hosted by Coleman HodgesGarrett McCaffrey, and Gold Medal Mel Stewart, SwimSwam welcomes both the biggest names in swimming that you already know, and rising stars that you need to get to know, as we break down the past, present, and future of aquatic sports.

Opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the interviewed guests do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the hosts, SwimSwam Partners, LLC and/or SwimSwam advertising partners. 

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Swamtoday
1 month ago

It’s hard to imagine this style of interview being given to Shaine Casas if he tested positive.

swimapologist
Reply to  Swamtoday
1 month ago

I’m positive that you’re trying to make some big point, but I’m not really sure what it is.

I’m almost-as-confident that whatever your point is, is a bad one. But hoping you can confirm your point.

Swamtoday
Reply to  swimapologist
1 month ago

Sure. I think she has a combination of characteristics that make a lot of people, at least in the US, more inclined to trust her. She’s female, white, Christian and speaks with a disarming southern accent.

Troyy
Reply to  Swamtoday
1 month ago

Throw in a bit of pretty privilege.

Sherry Smit
1 month ago

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say:

Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you believe her or not, for what it’s worth, she doesn’t deserve a 4 year sentence. There have been so many other cases where athletes have served such less time for worse drugs. It’s ridiculous that she’s getting this kind of sentence, and this kind of hate. After doing more research on this case and this drug, it’s sickening to see the amount of hate this young woman has been getting. Even if you don’t agree with whether or not she’s “innocent or guilty”, she doesn’t deserve 1. a 4 year sentence, and 2. hate through an online platform.

Stewie
Reply to  Sherry Smit
28 days ago

Who does then?

Swamtoday
1 month ago

I found this interview pretty disappointing. Entertaining the possibility that she might not have taken it is one thing, but to just totally trust her and never question her side of the story at all is not good journalism. I kept waiting for: “Kensey what do you say to everyone who worries that we can’t hold the Chinese accountable if we don’t hold ourselves accountable?”
Or better yet, “You say you want to change the system. How would your system work? How can we have accountability if we just trust people who test positive and then say they don’t know what happened?”

Swamtoday
Reply to  Coleman Hodges
1 month ago

Went back and listened and the topics are kind of brushed up against. However, she provides no specifics for how she would change the system and the Chinese situation was only discussed in terms of how it made her feel. The whole thing was mostly just, “poor me no one in the comments understands my struggle.”

Steve Nolan
1 month ago

I don’t know what I’m supposed to take away from this or why I’m supposed to have added sympathy for her.

This seems like exactly how the system is supposed to work.

(I’m not saying it’s a good system, but it at least seems like a much more ideal process than the recent Chinese or Russian cases.)

Coleman Hodges
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

The point of this interview for me was not to add sympathy. It was to let Kensey voice her perspective.

Also, you said one of my major takeaways yourself: The fact that this case was handled very differently (Kensey was immediately provisionally banned) than specifically the Chinese incident (not one athlete was provisionally banned at all) is pretty alarming.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Coleman Hodges
1 month ago

I suppose I didn’t know what she was trying to get across, if that makes more sense. (Tho maybe I said that because the entire tone was sort of “oh no, I’m so sorry this happened” when like…yeah? I’m not trying to tone police you or anything, idk how else you’d have done it.)

It’s a good example showing how things are “supposed” to work and that’s useful. (I don’t think her direct testimony is needed for that, but I get it.)

Sherry Smit
1 month ago

Just out of curiosity, are there any swimmers who have served such a ban, and still came back after 4 years? I can’t recall anyone on the top of my mind.

Coleman Hodges
Reply to  Sherry Smit
1 month ago

Sounds like Sun Yang is about to be in that boat.

samulih
1 month ago

Do you give podcast time for candid interviews to foreign dopers?

Admin
Reply to  samulih
1 month ago

If they’re willing to come on, absolutely.

It’s pretty rare for anyone with a doping suspension to be willing to be interviewed.

TomDeanBoxall
1 month ago

Personally wasn’t too fond of a lot of swimmers backing her with blind faith. She wasn’t able to prove the source of contamination, quite similar to Shayna Jack.

I think unless you can prove where the substance came from, you’re responsible for what is in your body.

Inside
1 month ago

Sorry but you can’t introduce her as an NCAA champ or world medalist if she’s a drug cheat. Everything accomplished means absolutely nothing if you are cheating !

Last edited 1 month ago by Inside

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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