If you’ve visited the site at all in the past few days, then you know that Mike is bringing the Olympic coverage hardcore by profiling a different Beijing-bound Long Beach athlete every day. One athlete who was not included on that list was Wilson High grad (‘05) Jessica Hardy, and I suspect she won’t be making the list anytime soon.
Hardy is a U.S. swimmer and the world record holder in the 50m breaststroke. Check out the record-setting performance in the video below, and tell me if it looks like she’s breathing just a little bit better than everyone else out there.
Sadly, reports from NBCOlympics.com today reveal that Hardy has tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol, medication used primarily for people suffering from asthma because it improves breathing. According to steroid.com:
“…it has the ability to reduce certain kinds of airway obstruction without much in the way of cardiovascular effect… and this is why it is used as an asthma medication.”
Clenbuterol also reduces fat and adds muscle with training, so there are obvious performance benefits to using the drug. Isteroids.com has a very informative description of the drug which I do not really understand, so you can view it here if you like.
The long and short of the situation is that Hardy is not traveling to Shanghai tomorrow with the rest of the team and is, in all likelihood, done. Dreams dashed, shot at glory over. I imagine the breaststroke world record will shortly be wiped away. The Press-Telegram today points out that MLB players Jason Grimsley and David Segui have been disciplined in the past for their use of the drug.
However, Hardy’s attorney, Howard Jacobs, is one of the nation’s best in steroid cases, and has seen some discrepancies in the test results. From NBCOlympics.com:
The first test — on July 1 — came back negative, he said.
The second in the series — on July 4 — registered the positive test, both the A and B samples, he said.
The third — on July 6 — was negative.
“That is a very peculiar pattern,” Jacobs said, adding, “It does not make sense.”
It appears we have not heard the end of this sad saga. My hope is obviously that this is all a big misunderstanding, but rare is the steroids case without basis. Hardy has built a successful career for herself by the age of 21 with the highest attainable honor just over the horizon, and with any luck she’ll be cleared of this for no other reason than to pursue her dreams. But if this case lingers on too long or it is found that Hardy knowingly broke rules, we’re going to have to say goodbye to a proud offspring of the storied Long Beach athletic tradition.