Laboratory documents revealed that swimmer Jessica Hardy’s level of the banned substance clenbuterol was, in fact, a “low positive,” her lawyer said Thursday.
Howard Jacobs, in a telephone interview with The Times, said he received the documentation Wednesday but declined to provide test specifics beyond the low positive and how it might have resulted for the 21-year-old Long Beach swimmer, who qualified for the Olympics in multiple events.
After the A and B samples -- taken at the U.S. Olympic swim trials in Omaha this month -- came back positive, Hardy left the team’s training camp at Stanford University and could face a ban of two years. Instead of departing with the rest of the Olympians for Singapore today, she is at home with her family, continuing to train and preparing for an arbitration hearing, which could take place within days, Jacobs said.
Jacobs is considered one of the premier defenders of athletes charged with doping offenses, having handled high-profile cases involving Marion Jones and Floyd Landis.
He reiterated what her agent had said earlier, that Hardy’s positive test, coming on July 4 after the 100-meter freestyle, was between two negative tests, on July 1 and July 6, and “struck” him as unusual.
“I can’t think of any cases where there have been three tests that close together [of differing results],” Jacobs said. “I can think of at least one athlete where there was a negative followed shortly by a positive.”
Hardy and her family were not available for comment Thursday, and USA Swimming issued a statement acknowledging there was an anti-doping procedure involving an U.S. athlete but did not name the swimmer. She is the former world-record holder in the 100 breaststroke and qualified for the Olympics in that event as well as the 50 freestyle and two relays.
The Hardy case has sent shock waves through the sport, and, in particular, the U.S. training camp at Palo Alto. Officials finally spoke to the swimmers about the situation at a team meeting Thursday, according to an athlete who did not want to be identified because they previously had been asked not to discuss it.
“They didn’t say any names,” the swimmer said. “Anything we’re hearing is basically on the Internet.”
Don Catlin, of the Anti-Doping Research Institute, said that clenbuterol can be used for asthma sufferers but “not in this country” and is not FDA-approved. It has been abused as a weight-loss aid, particularly in Hollywood, and remains popular among bodybuilders.
“It gets in to the veterinarians in this country,” Catlin said. “It’s an approved drug for them to give to horses. It can get here. But it is not allowed in the human food chain.”