Remember USA swimmer Jessica Hardy? She was set to participate in the 2008 Beijing Olympics when almost on the plane to China when she was 'sabotaged' by a positive urine test for clenbuterol, which of course is banned.
This led to much consternation for #3 swimmer Tara Kirk, who finished 3rd to Harding by a fingernail, however could not be included in the USA swim teams entourage as the doping results came to late to alter the roster.
The situation became even more entangled. Hardy claimed the clen came from a supplement of the company AdvoCare, and two of the companies products: Arginine Extreme and Nighttime Recovery. Now the plot thickens:
2. AdvoCare sued Hardy for defamation. Advocare says their product was tested at a Michigan firm, which showed it was clean. (from Swimming World)
The company's case says it "specifically tested the lots of AdvoCare
products provided to Hardy," the tests performed by NSF International,
a non-profit organization based in Ann Arbor, Mich., that certifies
supplements as free from taint for the NFL, among others. Those tests
"confirm that no clenbuterol is present in the AdvoCare products," the
Hardy's lawsuit says she retained Anti-Doping Research in Los Angeles, the lab founded by Don Catlin, the former director of the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab at UCLA.
ADR "tested all of the AdvoCare products used by Ms. Hardy during and immediately prior to the Olympic Trials, using remaining samples from those she had with her at the U.S. Olympic Trials in July 2008, or samples from the same product lot or lots as those she used at the U.S. Olympic Trials in July 2008.
"After extensive testing, ADR detected the presence of clenbuterol in samples of Arginine Extreme and Nighttime Recovery."
So — one lawsuit says the tests didn't find anything, the other says the tests assuredly did.
Now, Olympic insider Ron Judd (at the Seattle Times) put together a column that says:
- An arbitration ruling from (?) the USADA reduced Hardy's mandatory 2 year suspension to 1 year. The suspensions (counting back time) will end in July 2009, which makes her eligible for the 2012 London Olympics....except...
- There is mandatory exclusion of the subsequent Olympics game for any athlete suspended for doping for over 6 months.
Didn't Hardy serve a suspensions for 2008? And wasn't her sentence reduced because she claims contamination (which was never proved?). It wasn't reduced below 1 year, which would continue to support her 2012 Olympics suspension.
Furthermore Hardy claims this was a last minute contamination, however data indicates she actually dropped 3 dirty urines even prior to the US Olympic swimming trial:
But new evidence presented in the arbitration ruling sheds some new light. It discloses, for the first time publicly, that the same UCLA lab that tested Hardy's other samples informed USADA on July 23, two days after reporting the initial positive result, that two Hardy samples from July 1 (when she won the 100 breast) and July 6 (when she finished second in the 50 freestyle), initially reported as negative, "actually revealed the presence of 'suspect clenbuterol transitions.
This chain of events disturbs common sensibility on many levels.
1. What about 'strict liability' for the athlete who is responsible for what goes into their Olympic body? Athletes are frequently warned about supplements and other crap. Judd comments:
The term means what it says: Athletes are responsible for what they put in their bodies. Intent doesn't matter. You can test positive by accident and still see your career -- and your Olympic dream -- go up in flames. It's happened already to other athletes. But the American Arbitration Association seems ready to literally take on the world to prevent it from happening to hapless victim Jessica Hardy. And USADA, which was party to this exercise in jurisdictional aggrandizement, apparently is right there with them.
2. What about the conflicting claims of supplement contamination? Hardy claims her lab tested the supplements, however there was no strict 'chain of custody' (obviously Hardy could have contaminated the supplement herself looking for an excuse). Advocare says their product was clean.
3. And how about the arbitration committee thumbing it's nose at the IOC and at WADA who maintains strict liability policies.
4. Dana Kirk filed a negligence suit in the case too:
Nobody has bent over backwards to do anything for the now-retired Kirk, beyond urging her to go away. Her legal motion to be added to the squad was denied before the Beijing Games, but her claim that she was damaged by USA Swimming's negligence in the case remains alive, and will get its own arbitration hearing later this month.
This is a mess. To conclude:
But what kind of thermonuclear mixed message does all this send to the nation's impressionable young athletes? Don't use supplements, wink, wink. But if you do (and to be multiple-medal material, you pretty much have to) just make sure you can afford a good attorney, and we'll be behind you 100 percent?