An Australian Winter Olympics flag-bearer will appeal a lifetime ban in the United States for sexual misconduct involving a minor.

Brendan Kerry, a triple Olympian figure skater who was Australia’s joint flag-bearer at the Beijing Winter Games in 2022, has been permanently banned by the US Center for SafeSport.

Kerry says he’s innocent.

“After hearing nothing from the US Center for SafeSport for almost three years … I received their decision with no advance warning whatsoever, sanctioning me for alleged violations that I did not commit,” Kerry said in a statement.

“That decision is not final and I intend to challenge this suspension and request arbitration before a neutral arbitrator as is my right.”

Kerry, who won seven consecutive Australian figure skating titles from 2013, provided alcohol to and had sexual intercourse with a then 16 or 17-year-old figure skater in the United States in 2016 and 2017, ESPN reported.

Kerry was a registered coach with US Figure Skating in the 2016-17 season when the misconduct was alleged to have occurred.

ESPN cited a confidential summary of an investigation into Kerry by SafeSport, the US Olympic movement’s sexual misconduct watchdog.

SafeSport also investigated an allegation Kerry forced a second skater into non-consensual sex at a party in 2016, but found insufficient evidence to prove that claim.

Kerry’s ban only applies in the US where SafeSport has jurisdiction but he has stood down from coaching at Sydney’s Macquarie Ice Rink by mutual agreement with Australian figure skating authorities.

The Australian Professional Skaters’ Association said it would perform its own investigation.

The association’s president and Kerry’s mother, Monica MacDonald, has also stood down from her position pending the investigation.

According to SafeSport’s summary cited by ESPN, Kerry “admitted to engaging in a sexual relationship with Claimant 1 for an unknown period of time beginning in or around September 2016 when she was 17 years old”.

Kerry said he was unaware the claimant was too young to provide consent for sexual acts, ESPN reported.

The claimant described being “pinned down” and telling Kerry “no” on at least one occasion, according to SafeSport’s report — an allegation Kerry denied to investigators.

ESPN said the claimant also spoke to police about Kerry but decided, in 2021, not to press criminal charges.

The Australian Olympic Committee and Ice Skating Australia (ISA) were both unaware of the SafeSport investigation until the sanction was released on Wednesday, Australian time.

Kerry won eight Australian figure skating titles, including seven in a row, and competed at the Winter Olympics in 2014, 2018 and 2022.

The now 29-year-old retired after the Beijing Games two years ago when he recorded his best Olympic finish, 17th. He placed 29th in 2014 and 20th in 2018.

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