Drug Test Nabs U.S. Olympic Swimmer Hardy

Jessica Hardy, who qualified for the U.S. Olympic swim team in two events, has tested positive for a stimulant and could be barred from competing in Beijing. Hardy's lawyer says she denies that she "cheated."

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

One of America's strong contenders for a medal at next month's Olympics in Beijing has tested positive for a banned substance. It's swimmer Jessica Hardy. She is filing an urgent appeal, but if she loses, she's out. NPR's Mike Pesca has more.

MIKE PESCA: Earlier this month in Omaha, Nebraska, Hardy qualified for the Olympic team in three events. There was the 50-meter freestyle, the 4x100 freestyle relay, and her best event, the 100-meter breaststroke, in which she once held the world record.

But while Hardy passed all the tests the pool had in store for her, her drug test did not go as well. Her attorney Howard Jacobs says that low levels of the stimulant clenbuterol were picked up in her urine samples.

Mr. HOWARD JACOBS (Attorney): Jessica was tested three times during the Olympic trials. She tested on July 1st negative; on July 4th is this test that is reported as positive; and then two days later on July 6th she tested negative again.

PESCA: Clenbuterol is a stimulant that can increase aerobic capacity and oxygen transportation. According to Jacobs, Hardy denies ever taking it or any banned substance, and lawyer and client are planning a speedy appeal. If Hardy is barred from Olympic competition, rules state that the U.S. team cannot replace her with any athlete not already on the squad.

This hurts not only Hardy's Olympic hopes but the team's. Hardy was to have been an important part of two relay events in which the United States had come in second to Australia in both the most recent world championships and the 2004 Athens Games.

Mike Pesca, NPR News, New York.

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