Jessica Hardy Fends Off WADA Appeal, IOC Rule 45 Decision Still in Limbo

Updated with Hardy statement

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, May 21. IN a ruling just released by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Jessica Hardy successfully fended off an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) seeking to reinstate her doping punishment to two years.

Hardy's request for CAS to make a ruling regarding her potential banishment from the 2012 London Olympics as part of the IOC Rule 45 was denied. The issue is still up for litigation.

When Hardy first tested positive for Clenbuterol, a substance listed under the steroid prohibited substance category, shortly before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, all signs pointed to a standard two-year ban. Hardy, however, proved in front of the American Arbitration Association (AAA), an affiliate member of CAS, that her positive test came by way of a tainted supplement. Therefore, on May 30, 2009, AAA instituted a one-year ban on Hardy retroactive to Aug. 1, 2008.

WADA appealed the decision as it broke standing precedent of "strict liability." Strict liability is the notion that an athlete has complete and full responsibility of whatever is found within a positive test, and punishments should be levied according to the type of drug and not the circumstances by which a positive test occurred.

Today, CAS denied WADA's argument stating that the circumstances of the positive test can and should be considered. Leaning on AAA's initial decision that "the negligence of the athlete was not significant as she took nutritional supplements after having obtained assurances from the manufacturer," CAS sided with Hardy.

According to CAS' statement:

The CAS arbitrators confirmed the challenged decision. They agreed that Jessica Hardy had shown good faith efforts before ingesting the food supplements at stake: she had made the research and investigation which could reasonably be expected from an informed athlete wishing to avoid risks connected to the use of food supplements. In particular, the athlete had personal conversations with the manufacturer about the supplements' purity prior to taking them, she obtained the supplements directly from the manufacturer, not from an unknown source; the supplements she took were not labelled in a manner which might have raised suspicions.

In other news, Hardy had asked that CAS make a ruling regarding IOC's Rule 45, which states that any athlete banned for doping for longer than six months is automatically banned from the first Olympics that take place upon completion of the ban. The CAS panel elected to not make a ruling, but did not issue any opinion regarding Rule 45. This decision opens the door for further litigation as Hardy fights for the ability to try to make the 2012 London Olympic roster for the U.S.

As IOC Rule 45 would be applied to Hardy, she would be banned from two subsequent Olympic Games due to a single positive doping test that has now been ruled and confirmed to have come from a tainted supplement.

Jessica Hardy released the following statement through her lawyer Howard Jacobs:
I am extremely happy to put this case behind me, and to start looking forward. When I returned to competition last summer, under the stress of WADA's appeal, I proved that my prior successes, including at the Olympic Trials, were achieved solely through hard work and discipline, with no shortcuts. Now that WADA's appeal has been dismissed, I expect even greater success in the months and years to come. I continue to be grateful for the numerous expressions of support I received from teammates, competitors, and fans all over the world. I look forward to again representing my country, and will continue my preparation and climb toward the 2012 Olympic Games.

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