Long Beach, California’s Jessica Hardy was going to be one of the stars of the US Swimming team in Beijing last summer. She would have been a potential gold medal winner, a fresh face and a rising star at 21.
Except, she tested positive for the banned stimulant clenbuterol. She got an automatic two-year ban from competition in the United States that would have been extended internationally to keep her from the London games.
Like virtually every athlete who has tested positive, she said she didn’t do it, at least not knowingly. However, in this case that appears to be the truth.
The American Arbitration Association Panel on Monday announced that she could resume her swimming career on Aug. 1 and that her testing positive for clenbuterol was caused by contaminated Advocare Arginine Extreme supplement.
"I am extremely happy that the arbitration panel was persuaded by my scientific proof of supplement contamination, and that they believed me when I told them that I never have and never would use performance enhancing drugs," said Hardy, a 2005 Wilson High graduate who had qualified to participate in four events - the 100 breaststroke, 50 freestyle, 400 relay and 400 medley-relay - at the Beijing Games.
Hardy has also filed suit against AdvoCare International, claiming the supplement maker’s product — which was supposed to be clean — kept her from a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” The company has a claim against Hardy asking a judge to confirm it was not their products that put the illegal substance in her system.
Round one in this battle goes to Hardy, who will still be just 25 when the London Olympics roll around. If the future legal battles go her way as well, that could be a big settlement. How do you put a price tag on missing the Olympics and likely medals?