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End of the (Hardy) Affair

August 1, 2008 |  6:49 pm

Jessica Hardy (left) hugs fourth place finisher Kara Lynn Joyce after the final of the 50-meter freestyle during the U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials on July 6 in Omaha.

Updated at 7:00 p.m. on Friday with USA Swimming statement on which swimmers will take over Jessica Hardy's races.

In a surprising twist, the Jessica Hardy case ended.

Sort of.

Hardy, the 21-year-old Long Beach swimmer who tested positive on July 4 for a low level of the banned substance clenbuterol, opted to withdraw from the U.S. Olympic squad in "the best interests of the team," according to a release late this afternoon from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

"While it is an unfortunate circumstance for an Olympian to come this far only to lose a coveted position on the Olympic team, Ms. Hardy is working expediently and agreeably to resolve the situation with as little impact to the U.S. Olympic team as possible," said USADA chief executive Travis Tygart. "While some might have chosen to exhaust their legal options to try to force their way into the Games, Jessica instead chose to put her team's interests ahead of her own."

She does have the opportunity to come back to the arbitration panel with evidence which "could reduce her period of ineligibility." The ban, as it stands now, is for two years.

-- Lisa Dillman

Rebecca Soni Here is how USA Swimming will deal with Jessica Hardy's decision on Friday to withdraw from the U.S. Olympic Team:

"As a result of Jessica Hardy's withdrawal from the U.S. Olympic Team, USA Swimming will follow the published U.S. Olympic Team selection procedures, which were approved by the USOC, and posted in their final format on February 22, 2008. According to the pre-approved procedures, swimmers from the existing roster will be placed in the open events. Rebecca Soni will swim the 100m breaststroke and Kara Lynn Joyce will swim the 50m freestyle."

Top Photo: Second place finisher Jessica Hardy (left) hugs fourth place finisher Kara Lynn Joyce after the final of the 50-meter freestyle during the U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials on July 6 in Omaha. Credit:  Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Bottom Photo: Rebecca Soni poses for a portrait during the U.S. Olympic Swim Team Media Day at Stanford University on July 12 Palo Alto. Credit: Ned Jacobsohn/Getty Images

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