US top swimmer withdraws from Olympics

Jessica Hardy, who failed a dope test, will not be appealing test results and has pulled out of the Olympic Games. The swimmer, former 100m breaststroke world record holder, was a top medal hope for the US.


American swimmer Jessica Hardy has withdrawn from the Beijing Games after failing a dope test at the Olympic trials last month, her lawyer and USA Swimming said on Saturday.

"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," 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." USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus said the 21-year-old would be replaced in the two events she had qualified for, the 100 metres breastroke and 50 metres freestyle, by swimmers from the existing roster.

"Rebecca Soni will swim the 100m breaststroke and Kara Lynn Joyce will swim the 50m freestyle," he said in a statement on the USA Swimming website (www.usaswimming.org).

Soni, a first time Olympian, had already qualified for the 200m breaststroke while Joyce, who competed in Athens four years ago, was a late addition to the U.S. roster as a 4x100m freestyle relay alternate.



Hardy was a strong medal contender as former world record holder in the 100m breaststroke as well as current short course record holder in the 50m breaststroke.

While her second doping test on July 4 at the Omaha trials revealed traces of the banned stimulant clenbuterol, her first and third tests that same week came back negative.

The Californian swimmer said last week that she had no idea how the positive test happened and had hoped to clear herself in time to compete at the Olympics starting on Aug. 8.

A first-time doping offence usually results in a two-year ban, but Jacobs said Hardy had not knowingly or intentionally taken any banned substances and hoped to have any penalty reduced significantly.

"We are going to seek to have her suspension reduced and rsserve the right to bring that issue to arbitration," he told Reuters by telephone from Los Angeles. A hearing was expected in the next few months.

The U.S. anti-doping agency USADA said in a separate statement that Hardy could have contested the results and gone to arbitration but had agreed to withdraw in the best interests of the team.

USADA chief executive Travis T. Tygart said Hardy was "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."

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