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Intentional or not, US swimmer Jessica Hardy’s positive drug test denies her a trip to Beijing

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After testing positive for a banned stimulant, one of the top swimmers on the US Olympic team has decided to withdraw just a week before the Games open in Beijing.

Jessica Hardy, who broke the world record in the 50-meter breaststroke this spring, was a strong medal contender in the 100-meter breaststroke and was also slated to compete in the 50-meter free and 400-meter relay.

Ms. Hardy, who said she had never heard of the drug clenbuterol before being notified of her positive test, had engaged prominent doping lawyer Howard Jacobs to contest the result in an arbitration hearing this week. But after the hearing, the US Anti-Doping Agency announced on Friday that Hardy opted to withdraw in “the best interests of the team.” She has the opportunity, however, to come back to the arbitration panel with more evidence to reduce the usual two-year ban for the July 4 positive test, which occurred in between two negative tests at the US Olympic trials in Omaha.

Mr. Jacobs, who has represented high-profile athletes such as Marion Jones and US cyclist Floyd Landis, says that two-thirds of his clients have unwittingly tested positive – often because the nutritional supplements they’ve taken are contaminated with banned stimulants.

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