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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

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 6, 2008 1:37 PM

Coughlin: Fellow swimmers would put Kirk on team "in a heartbeat"

Posted by Ron Judd

Ace swimmer Natalie Coughlin, a veteran Olympian, offered up a comment in Beijing to San Jose Mercury News reporter Elliott Almond about the Jessica Hardy dope test, and the way it left Bremerton swimmer Tara Kirk off the Olympic team:

"In a heartbeat we'd put her on the team," Coughlin said of Kirk. "For the future we have to pick the team a little earlier, or change the procedures.

"Hopefully, we'll never be in this position again."

In happier times: Jessica Hardy, left, world-record holder breaststroker Leisel Jones of Australia and Tara Kirk of Bremerton, right, at the 2005 World Aquatics Championships in Montreal. Of the three, only Jones will swim in Beijing. (Photo: AP)

UPDATE: 6:20 p.m.: Kirk meets with arbitrator

Kirk, meanwhile, reported on her blog at WCSN that she has met with an arbitrator to discuss the matter.

"The Arbitrator found that the system was flawed and that that flawed system was applied to me and I suffered from it, she wrote. "He felt that he did not have the power to name me to the Olympic team because USA Swimming did not go outside of its rules to avoid naming me to the team."

The arbitrator also opined, she wrote, that "I still may have cause to ask for damages and a rule change. Since there isn't any urgency to these two things, the Arbitrator has set the matter over for a least a month."

Kirk agreed with that decision, she said, because she doesn't want the tiff to affect her teammates in Beijing.

"I wish Rebecca Soni, the person who is going to swim Jessica Hardy's vacant spot, the best of luck," Kirk wrote. "I'll be cheering for her as hard or harder than anyone else."

The news is "disappointing but not devastating," Kirk wrote. "It simply means that we can't turn back time on what happened and make me a 2008 Olympian as I should be."

But she said the matter was far from closed.

"USA swimming should not take this decision to mean that they won and that they don't have to change anything," she wrote. "Clearly, the selection procedures were flawed and only a fool would leave them as they are to await the next disaster. Let's hope that at some point they are willing to acknowledge their mistake."

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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.