The agent of U.S. Olympic swimmer Jessica Hardy leapt to her defense on Thursday after media reports said she had tested positive for a banned substance.
“Jessica Hardy is a friend and someone I have the utmost faith has never done anything other than the right way,” Evan Morgenstein told Reuters.
Reports from the United States said Hardy, who qualified for the Aug. 8-24 Olympics in multiple events, had produced positive results from a sample from the recent U.S. Olympic trials.
Hardy's "A" sample from the recent U.S. Olympic trials tested positive, a person familiar with the test results told The Associated Press on Wednesday night. The person, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the banned substance was a stimulant but did not provide any other details.
If she chooses, the 21-year-old swimmer can pursue appeals with the American Arbitration Association and the Court of Arbitration for Sport. With just two weeks to spare, Hardy could appeal directly to CAS, whose ruling would be final and binding.
Typically a first-time doping offence results in a two-year ban.
“I don’t know enough about the allegations to determine the veracity of the claim, but as far as I am concerned Jessica is innocent. Period,” Morgenstein said in an e-mail response to questions from Reuters.
Morgenstein also told the AP that during a brief phone conversation with Hardy, she told him, "I never did anything wrong. I never cheated."
Hardy’s agent said he was told that she had two negative results sandwiched around a positive sample. He did not have further details.
The World Anti-Doping Agency would not immediately comment.
World swimming’s governing body would neither confirm nor deny whether or not Hardy had tested positive.
“As per FINA Doping Control Rules, when a test is not conducted by FINA, we expect to receive the information from the respective National Anti-Doping Agency conducting that test,” Executive Director Cornel Marculescu said.
“Also in accordance with FINA Doping Control Rules regarding confidentiality, FINA will not announce and/or comment (on) any case until a decision is taken by the body having the jurisdiction of the case.”
Hardy, a former 100m breastroke world record holder, was officially entered into the Beijing Games on Wednesday by the U.S. Olympic Committee. If she appeals and loses, the U.S. could not add to its swimming roster because the deadline to do so was July 21.
She earned spots on her first Olympic team in her best event, the 100 breast, and the 50 freestyle and 400 free relay.
"I don't think if you had told me a month ago that I would make it in all three of these events that I would have believed you," she said at the trials. "I'm expecting good things for sure."
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.