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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 21, 2008 2:51 PM

Tara Kirk to USA Swimming: I'm not going away

Posted by Ron Judd

The bureaucrats at USA Swimming messed with the wrong woman when they fell back on their own Mickey Mouse rules to prevent deserving athletes from being named to the Beijing Olympic team after swimmer Jessica Hardy tested positive for a banned substance.

Bremerton's Tara Kirk, who finished third in the 100 breaststroke at the Olympic trials, behind Hardy and Tacoma's Megan Jendrick, was left off the Beijing team because USA Swimming's protocol had no provision for naming alternates to the team in the event of an athlete's withdrawal. The situation was worsened by a series of bungling missteps in the drug-testing process, which we documented earlier here.

Kirk filed a formal protest over the matter, but an arbitrator ruled that she couldn't be placed on the Olympic team because USA Swimming, technically, followed its own rules. Since then, swimming officials have essentially acknoweldged that the Olympic-selection procedures were flawed, and should change next time around. And swimmer Rebecca Soni, who took what could have been Kirk's spot in the 100 breaststroke, won a silver medal in the event.

Kirk congratulated teammate Soni, but made it clear in a blog post this week that her battle against USA Swimming's seeming duplicity in the matter is far from over. She still has an active claim for damages against the organization, and from all indications, she's going to pursue it, if for no other reason than to affirm for history's sake that she should have competed in Beijing -- and to ensure no one else winds up in her shoes in the future.

"Obviously," she writes, "the swimming has passed and it is too late for me to ever compete at these Games. But I am still working on this and still fighting to be named to the Team, if only for the honor. I will also continue in hopes that the right decisions will be made in similar situations in the future."

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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.