One is struck by the very different tone being applied by the media to the reported positive on would-be Olympic Swimmer Jessica Hardy.
The Sydney Morning Herald takes the hard line one might expect on a non-US outlet: "US team rocked as breaststroker Jessica Hardy tests positive"
The SF Chronicle, home of "there's always a local angle", says, "Ex-Cal swimmer could be out of Olympics". Author John Crumpacker notes that
Swimming is poised for unprecedented exposure in Beijing. NBC used its considerable clout as U.S. rights holder to have the swimming finals switched to morning in Beijing so they can be televised live in prime time in the U.S.
Might this have something to do with the lack of instant condemnation in yesterdays story by Alan Abrahamson at NBCOlympics.com? Let's see what he says today...
NBCOlympics/Abrahamson buries the story today in a brief blurb which doesn't mention Jacobs by name, doesn't condemn, but does identify the specific substance:
Jessica Hardy, 21, of Long Beach, Calif., was said Wednesday by her defense lawyer to have tested positive July 4 -- in a test administered at the Trials -- for the banned substance clenbuterol. Hardy was first at the Trials in the 100m breaststroke, second (behind Torres) in the 50m freestyle. It remains unclear whether she will be eligible to race at the Games; an expedited hearing process has been launched.
The AP says, "Swimmer Jessica Hardy. 's trip to the Beijing Olympics could be in jeopardy after she tested positive for a banned substance." Ya think?
RightFielders reports she's hired Howard Jacobs:
“Jessica denies that she has taken any prohibited substances,” he said. “We’re looking into explanations for the positive [tests].”
We await the condemnatory opinion pieces that say all dopers deny, deny, deny, hire expensive American lawyers, engage in legal tricks and try to get off on technicalities.
The Washington Post is more shocked, along with USA Swimming, and says
Clenbuterol has been abused in the bodybuilding community for years. It is considered a weight-loss aid, and bodybuilders take it to make themselves look cut. Baseball players David Segui and Jason Grimsley admitted using the stimulant, and pop star Britney Spears reportedly has used it.
Brittney connection!!! Our blog life is complete!
The Seattle Times is shocked at the test timing, it is so unfair:
The big question raised by this bit of extremely bad timing is about the testing process itself, particularly its timeline. Specifically: How can the USOC fail to allow time for doping questions to be raised and answered satisfactorily before names of Olympians must be submitted to the IOC? If Hardy is bounced and cannot be replaced, it's a blow to the U.S. swim team,
blah, blah, blah, jingoistic apologia. Now the media is concerned -- because it is American Olympic Medals at stake. How about Mayo, and Ricco, and Piepoli? How have their due-process rights been respected? Mayo is now years on an unconfirmed test; Ricco is bounced out of competition with just an A, not an A and B as Hardy has been found; and Piepoli is out of a job, and he has no positive test at all.
It's not like swimming is a known-to-be-clean sport. The difference is that it is a commercially important Olympic sport, and the kind of scandal that engulfs cycling is bad for the Olympic bottom line.
The international (particularly Australian) coverage is an interesting contrast, with little sympathy for the caught doper. "Tough noogies for the American team" is the sentiment elsewhere.
Let's be clear -- we have no opinion on the merits, or an axe to grind with Hardy.
But many people who are being sensitive to her plight are people who condemned Landis loud and long, and ridiculed his defense and his defense attorneys, including Jacobs. Now, because it is someone in a sport they care about, they are concerned about timeliness, and probably the fairness of the proceedings.
What will the US media say if the ADRB throws out the test results, FINA appeals, and the presumptions of WADA lab correctness result in a two-year ban?
Is USADA going to give Jacobs material to work with, or a thin LDP, starving him of information before an expedited hearing.
Should it matter if they "like" the athlete in question?
Having validated the bus by running over Landis with it, we ought to be throwing everyone under it, equally -- That would be reaping what we've sown with this process.
SportsStar (India) runs down Olympic dope enforcement skeptically, and paints everyone found positive as a dirty rotten doper.
Law.com talks to Adam Brezine, an HRO attorney who was briefly involved in the Landis case, pitching sports law. He notes that HRO is unlikely to take the athlete's side in any case.
Lij got the same spot on L'Alpe she had in 2006, and laments the faded "Floyd, Floyd, Floyd, Floyd" painted on the road there.