NBC.com and SwimInfo.com are reporting that American swimmer Jessica Hardy has tested positive for a banned substance. NBC reported that both her A and B samples have come back positive, while SwimInfo sources a conversation with a coach "e;with knowledge of the situation"e; as having confirmed she tested positive for a banned substance.
As the story unfolds this evening and into tomorrow, time will tell what Hardy has tested positive for, and what is the status of the case. However, one thing is certain; someone has leaked this story to the press.
Depending on who conducted the test, slightly different procedural rules will apply when a swimmer tests positive. If USADA (the US Anti-Doping Agency) conducted it, their rules specifically state that they will "e;not publicly disclose or comment on any athlete's positive test result or any information related to any alleged doping violation...until after the athlete...has been found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation in a hearing..."e;
NBC.com also reported that "e;expedited arbitration proceedings"e; have begun. However, that language is vague. After the testing of the B sample, if there is an adverse analytical finding, the results go to a Review Board before the athlete can even request a hearing. If all that has already happened, which seems unlikely if this test was conducted in Omaha at US Olympic Trials, only then should USADA release the results publicly.
So who knows about the positive tests? USADA provides information along the way to the USOC, FINA, WADA, and in this case USA Swimming. USADA specifically notes that they do "e;not control how information provided by USADA to [these organizations] is disseminated."e; However, it does note that they include requests for confidentiality until disclosed by USADA. After a thorough search of USA Swimming's website, I could find no indication that their rules were different than USADA's.
Unfortunately, if this turns out to be a positive test for a cold remedy or something that often results in a slap on the wrist, Jessica Hardy's reputation will already be ruined. If it is something more serious, Hardy will suffer, but so should the person who broke our anti-doping rules.
As a swimmer, a human rights lawyer, and a staunch anti-doping advocate, I don't know how to feel tonight. Anti-doping is a way of life for us and a crucial way to try and keep our sport clean. If Hardy has been using performance-enhancing drugs, I want to know about it and I want her punished. However, if she stupidly took the wrong cough syrup, I want to know who leaked this story and I want them punished. Either way, I go to sleep feeling sad and disappointed that our sport will be in the news for all the wrong reasons, just weeks before we should be celebrating all the good ones.