Jessica Hardy has withdrawn from the Beijing Games after failing a drugs test. She tested positive for clenbuterol after the 100m breaststroke final at the US Olympic trials last month. It seems that she and her legal team accept that the substance was there and that testing procedures were correctly observed. What effectively remains are arguments about intent.
'Based upon information obtained as recently as today, August 1, she accepts the fact that the testing was properly done and the results properly reported,' the swimmer's lawyer, Howard Jacobs, said in a statement. 'She sadly accepts the fact that this necessarily means she will not be able to compete in the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, and faces a possible two-year suspension of eligibility. Jessica is heartbroken at this turn of events, as making the U.S. Olympic Team was her cherished dream and proudest moment. She intends to resume her swimming career as soon as possible, and to again fulfill her Olympic dream in 2012.'
Hardy had three tests in quick succession at trials: two negatives were sandwiched by the positive. Hardy says that she is mystified but she has given up hope of an appeal that would lead to her reinstatement. A two-year suspension looms.
'We are going to seek to have her suspension reduced and reserve the right to bring that issue to arbitration,' said Jacobs. Hardy's decision to withdraw from any attempt to make the Games was, said USADA chief executive Travis T. Tygart, 'working expediently and agreeably to resolve the situation with as little impact to the U.S. Olympic team as possible ... while some might have chosen to exhaust their legal options to try to force their way into the Games, Jessica instead chose to put her team's interests ahead of her own'.
Hardy endorses a fair few products that are said to help repair this and build that. All of that may well be legitimate - but perhaps the search for the source of the clenbuterol should start there and in any medication she was taking at the time of the trials. It is hard to see how else such a substance would end up in the blood stream.