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Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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July 25, 2008 11:40 AM

Kirk blasts dope-test timeline, vows to fight for Beijing spot

Posted by Ron Judd

Bremerton swimmer Tara Kirk, citing "incompetence, laziness and deceit" among those responsible for dope-testing swimmers and establishing the U.S. Olympic team, today vowed to petition for what she says is her her rightful spot on the Beijing squad in light of a reported positive doping test by swimmer Jessica Hardy, who finished ahead of Kirk in the Olympic Trials.

Is she righteously indignant, or, given that Hardy's positive test has not been fully vetted, a little quick off the line? In any case, get ready for the lawyering.

Kirk's complete comments, from her blog on, follow:

July 25th, 2008
A note to everyone who's wondering what's going on.

Greg told me Thursday morning that he had read in the Mercury News online that Jessica Hardy, one of the girls who finished ahead of me at Trials, had tested positive for a banned substance. The media was also reporting that the roster for the Olympic Team had already been finalized and that I could not be added to the team.

I had and still have many questions pertaining to the timeline of events and the results of these tests. I feel certain that someone along the way failed me and Lara, who would have been named to the team in the 50 free. The results of the drug test should have come back earlier, at least in time to name alternates to the team. It has, after all, been three weeks since the tests were taken. Did they come back earlier? If so, why am I just hearing about it by reading the newspaper and why am I not on the team? If not, why did they take so long?

I emailed USA swimming but did not get a response over the day.

In the evening I called Lea, my coach, who was trying to figure out exactly what had happened. It seemed that people were simply saying the deadline had passed and that we had to move on. That answer was not good enough for either of us. It is not acceptable to us that the dreams and work of four hard years be shrugged off on a technicality.

I called the head of USA swimming and left a message. He called me back and said that they were following entry procedures and that it was too late to add me to the team and that Jessica would be going through appeals for her drug test. I asked him to make an appeal to change the final roster and, after a long and emotional plea, he agreed.

That is where I am at right now. Before today I had thought that responsibility for me not making the team rested on my shoulders. If I had just swum to my abilities I would have made the team. It was a difficult situation but one in which I could only look within for answers. Today the situation seems much more gray. The fault now lies on many shoulders and I fear that incompetence, laziness and deceit may have played a role. That is much harder to take. Regardless of intent, mistakes were made and I am paying for them.

People I trusted to do their jobs and to ensure the working order of the system we put in place for our sport failed me. I hope that I am not being unreasonable in my analysis of the situation. But I just cannot stand the thought of these organizations, which are supposed to protect me, sitting on their hands while my dreams are being ripped away. I cannot go quietly away in this; I've worked too hard. I hope that you support me.

UPDATE 12:07 p.m.: Tainted supplements?Meanwhile, following up on her coach's suggestion that Hardy's positive test might have been due to an indavertent ingestion from a nutritional supplement, the Orange County Register reports that some supplements produced by AdvoCare, a company whose products are endorsed by Hardy and five other members of the current U.S. Olympic team, have been banned by the NCAA because of quality concerns and reports of doping positives for a different stimulant. Read that story here.

The company issued a written response, posted on the Swimming World Magazine site, denying any link to banned substances.

UPDATE: The Orange County Register later issued a correction taking back one of the primary claims in its original story about AdvoCare. See it here.

And Hardy herself, appearing on The Early Show on CBS, professed her innocence, saying "I have no idea how it happened. In my heart I know I'm 100 percent clean. I know that I am innocent. We just have to prove it."

UPDATE, 5:30 p.m.: In the first quote wev'e seen from the U.S. Olympic Committee, spokesman Darryl Seibel splashes cold water on any momentum to have Tara Kirk named to the Beijing swim team. He tells the New York Times:

"I'm not aware of any procedure or provision by which an athlete can be added to the official roster in place of another athlete if that athlete is suspended because of a doping violation."

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Blogroll and links The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information. Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site. Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription). News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions. Beijing Organizing Committee Web site. Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site. London 2012 Summer Games site. Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site. Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.