Intentional or Not: Positive Means Guilty for Jessica Hardy -- July 29, 2008

Column by Kristen Heiss

COLLEGE STATION, Texas, July 29. THE news about Jessica Hardy's positive drug test has been sending shock waves through swimming circles.

Unfortunately, whether Hardy intentionally took the substance or not, the news of a positive drug test for a U.S. Olympic team member has thrown a cloud of doubt over the integrity of the athletes from the United States.

Although I am an optimist and do not believe that most U.S. swimmers are doping, it is unfortunate that attention has been brought to U.S. swimming in this manner.

There has been a great deal of speculation among swimmers, coaches and fans as to whether the illegal substance was taken intentionally by Jessica Hardy.

As an elite athlete, she has a responsibility to be aware of everything that she consumes. USA Swimming and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) are very specific on what is illegal in and out of competition for swimmers.

At the athlete's disposal are online databases, call centers and rule books with information on legal and banned substances. The first thing I do every time I take any sort of drug is to look it up on the online database to see if it is allowable for swimmers by USADA.

Some people argue, in Hardy's defense, that she most likely took a tainted supplement.

In my mind, this is still an inexcusable reason for a positive drug test. Athletes are constantly being reminded that supplements are not regulated by the FDA: the nutritionist at USA Swimming sends out information telling athletes that the supplements may contain many additional, illegal substances besides what is listed on the label.

In short, supplements are labeled with a "take at your own risk" warning by USA Swimming and USADA. We as athletes know this. If an athlete is willing to take the gamble and take supplements, then he or she must be aware of the consequences that could follow as a result.

I know many swimmers that, for this reason, will not take any supplements.

Whether taking this substance was intentional or unintentional on Hardy's part, this positive drug test has almost certainly ruined the swimming career of an obviously talented athlete.

It has also left two swimmers at home who, in hindsight, should have been traveling to Beijing. It has reaffirmed in some people's mind that the sports world is a tainted one.

To me, it is sad that this news comes so shortly after an outstanding Olympic Trials for the United States and with the Olympic Games just around the corner. Hopefully, people will be able to push this knowledge to the side when watching the swims in Beijing and realize that most U.S. athletes continue to foster the honor of competing in a clean sport.

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Reaction Time Comments

July 29, 2008 In a recent interview; Hardy speculated that she heard someone could test positive for Clenbuterol by touching someone with remnants of the drug on them or eaten meat containing it; is either of those plausible? They don't sound so, but I'm no expert in this area. She made no mention of supplements and I haven't seen anything definite on that, although her coached implied she was taking supplements when he was quoted saying that he thought that was the culprit.
Submitted by: liquidassets
July 29, 2008 Amen Sister!

Your brief synopsis says it all.

JH cooked her own goose, period.
Submitted by: wek5000
July 29, 2008 liquid... I'd really love to know the touching this is possible. (I think the meat thing is possible, although probably not as plausable in the US). FYI it was actually her stepdad that said it, not her. Here is a link to the article:

It does also mention the idea of the switched water bottles (which is something I don't understand the lack of discussion about given the strange facts of the case). While it's probably impossible to prove, I think it's a highly plausable explanation for what could have happened. Maybe not switched water bottles specifically... IF someone wanted to do this, does anybody know what forms the clen could have been given to her in? Lotion? In her food? etc.

While I'm sure nobody wants to believe that that is what happened, it seems to me that if someone wanted to do it (and there ARE people who benefited from Jessica being out, and others who would have expected to if things were handled differently) it actually makes more sense to get rid of the person ahead of you (because it's SO hard to prove) than to take any drugs yourself. I am absolutely NOT blaming anybody specific. I'm just saying it's strange that nobody is willing to explore this possibility.
Submitted by: Ako
July 29, 2008 Here is a thought I haven´t seen on this forum: could it be that, for whatever reason, someone else, by whatever means, other than JH, caused the failure?
I don´t know, I am thinking something like a contaminated or spoiled sample...wrong lab procedures...
It has happened before..

Let us not be naive here:
- It´s a dog eat dog world out there
- No one is safe (or a saint, for argument´s sake)
- JH wouldn´t have taken anything AFTER she had already made the team..
Submitted by: nadador
July 30, 2008 Is this an article or clearly just Ms. Heiss' opinion? I agree with her statements but I didn't realize this site was now publishing personal editorials. I thought that was what the Reaction Time area was for. I come hear for news and information not opinion laced editorials.
Submitted by: Taz Taylor
July 30, 2008 The threshold for a positive test is 2ng/ml clenbuterol in the urine. It may sound like a very small amount but it is actually not, because the dosage for anabolic effect is also very low. A high dose of clenbuterol will cause acute toxic effects and send the taker into emergency rooms.
So it is ludicrous to claim that someone would test positive simply by touching someone who had clenbuterol on the skin.
The meat contamination is also not plausible. The skeletal muscles (i.e. meat) does not contain or store high levels of clenbuterol. The most of reported human contamination cases were caused by eating liver of the clenbuterol-treated animals.
The contamnination from suppliment theory is plausible as a few of the suppliments endorsed and taken by JH contain herbal extracts. That fact alone should have ring the alarm bell. It is quite simple, if some herbs can reduce your body fat and raise your metabolism, it must have something like either ephedrine or some other adrenergic agonists.
Submitted by: doc
July 30, 2008 doc, where did you get that threshold number from? I thought ANY Clenbuterol in her system made it a positive test.
Submitted by: Ako
July 30, 2008 I saw last night On German TV that there will be tests at the Olympic games of Insulin and HGH (All forms) Hopefully this will help to stop more cheaters!

Submitted by: Stephenmrot
July 30, 2008 ah but will these tests catch a new synthetic human growth hormone (like THG but newer)???
Submitted by: whyzee
July 30, 2008 It makes PERFECT sense that she would cheat after she already made the team. If she did this intentionally, she was already cheating before the first race and just didn't get caught (i.e she timed it properly).

We all know that the really popular athletes (and rich athletes) are the ones who swim multiple events. Well with the 100 free, you stand to potentially get TWO medals from one race... perfect reason to cheat whether you are on team or not.
Submitted by: JeffyFit
July 30, 2008 And then you get this, after the original "in-depth" story by the ocregister:

here is the original article they ran condemning the supplement company rather than the supplement taker. Utter hogwash, journalistically speaking.

Submitted by: hhmmm
July 30, 2008 The real tragedy is still the swimmers left out. Look at Gymnastics, Paul Hamm is on the team, but with an injury issue. When the injury doesn't heal, he steps back, and the alternates, already named to the team, step up to compete.

Its a pretty sad day for US Swimming when Gymnastics is eating their lunch and showing them how to properly run a team.
Submitted by: prhjd
July 30, 2008 Comparing gymnastics with swimming is like comparing apples to oranges.

They are two very different sports. To say that gymnastics is eating swimming's lunch is incredibly stupid.

The USA's international track record in swimming is so far superior than gymnastics it's silly.

This entire topic has been beaten to death.
Submitted by: wek5000
July 31, 2008 Taz,

We appreciate the comment, and understand that we did not label this article specifically as a column, and we apologize for not giving that warning for those that want pure news. We have gone back and changed the byline to read Column by Kristen Heiss.

While we will always be The Record for the Sport and strive to have the most up-to-date information about the sport on the web, columnwork truly provides us the chance to create conversations with our readers.

We hope that you appreciate our policy change so that there is a way to identify what type of article you are reading. We will be doing this in the future.
Submitted by: Jason Marsteller
August 4, 2008 To Ako: I don't think it is ever a matter of coming up positive b/c you take "any" amount. For example, with testosterone, isn't it somehting like 6 parts to 1 ratio (6:1)?

To prhjd: How can you compare the two when they are both different sports, ruled by different governing bodies, each with different rules about selecting teammates after the team has been finalized? Period.
Submitted by: Park528
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Jessica Hardy wins the first semi-final in the 50 freestyle.
Photo By: Peter H. Bick

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