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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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August 1, 2008 6:16 PM

Hardy withdraws, USA Swimming affirms: No athletes added to Beijing roster

Posted by Ron Judd

This just in:

Swimmer Jessica Hardy has reached a deal to withdraw from the U.S. Olympic Team after a positive doping test. But swimming officials immediately reiterated that other swimmers who would have gone to the Beijing Games if she had not competed -- including Bremerton's Tara Kirk -- will not be added to the team.

(Begin quoted statement:)

Statement from USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus:

"As a result of Jessica Hardy's withdrawal from the U.S. Olympic Team, USA Swimming will follow the published U.S. Olympic Team selection procedures, which were approved by the USOC, and posted in their final format on February 22, 2008. According to the pre-approved procedures, swimmers from the existing roster will be placed in the open events. Rebecca Soni will swim the 100m breaststroke and Kara Lynn Joyce will swim the 50m freestyle."

Excerpt from 2008 Olympic Pool Selection Procedures included below…

U.S. Olympic Team Selection Procedures: Section IV - B

If, for any reason, an additional Team position or an additional event position shall become vacant after July 21, 2008, (entry deadline), no additional members shall be added to the Team. If USA Swimming is permitted to fill a vacant event position, such vacant event position shall be filled with the swimmer already on the Team who has recorded the fastest time in such vacant event during the period beginning January 1, 2006 through July 6, 2008, provided, however, that the replacement swimmer must agree, after consulting with the Head Coach and National Team Head Coach and General Manager, to compete in the additional event. If the replacement swimmer does not agree to swim in the additional event, then the replacement swimmer shall not be considered an Available Swimmer for that event. This process shall repeat until the event is filled.(End quoted statement)

The statement confirms that third-place finishers from the U.S. Olympic Trials, one of whom was Kirk (who beat Rebecca Soni, now officially slated to swim the event in the Olympics, at the Trials) will not be added to the team.

USA Swimming's action comes after the Associated Press reported, moments ago, that Hardy, who tested positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol at the Olympic Trials on July 4, has withdrawn from the Olympics on her own accord, "in the best interests of the team."

The Long Beach swimmer, 21, who has professed her innocence and suggested any ingestion of clenbuterol must have been accidental, apparently has struck her own deal: After being granted an opportunity to have testing data reviewed by independent analysts, Hardy reportedly chose not to contest the clincial findings, but instead offered to return and provide reasons she might have tested positive -- perhaps to receive a suspension shorter than the typical two years.

See the story here.

The key portions:

A panel from the American Arbitration Association issued a decision Friday that was jointly agreed to by Hardy and USADA (the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) after Hardy had a full opportunity to review the laboratory test results and to have those results analyzed by independent experts.

Hardy did not contest the laboratory findings and was granted additional time by the arbitration panel to investigate possible causes of her positive drug test.

The decision allows for a two-year period of ineligibility but allows Hardy to come back to the panel to present evidence that could reduce her period of ineligibility.

"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," said Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of USADA.

More on the story from the Long Beach Press-Telegram:

Hardy's legal team said Friday that they would no longer contest a positive drug finding, according to her stepfather, Bill Robinson, an attorney who has been working on the appeal.

"We didn't want to turn this into a circus and there wasn't enough time left for us to get all the information that would clear her name," Robinson said.

"But we continue to maintain she never knowingly took an illegal drug," he added.

Hardy had qualified for four events at the Beijing Games.

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