- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 26, 2008

She had tested positive for an illicit drug.

“My main emotion at that point was confusion,” Hardy said Friday. “I had never even heard of this drug.”

In an interview with the Beijing Olympics.

“I’m innocent,” said Hardy, who spoke from Howard Jacobs. “That’s all I can say to everybody. Whether or not people chose to believe me, I’m innocent.”

Hardy was tested three times during the trials in Dara Torres in the 50 freestyle.

But Hardy’s “A” and backup “B” samples both came back positive - for what her attorney said was low amounts of the drug - from a test July 4, when she finished fourth in the 100 freestyle.

Clenbuterol is usually prescribed to those with breathing disorders, such as asthma, and also is well-known in horse racing circles as a treatment for respiratory ailments. More recently, it has been touted as a weight-loss drug.

But it’s also a stimulant that increases aerobic capacity and the flow of oxygen in the bloodstream, which is why it landed on the list of banned substances for athletes.

Hardy said she can’t figure out how Clenbuterol wound up in her system - if, in fact, the test was accurate.

“It’s pretty much the hardest thing in my life that I’ve ever had to go through,” she said. “I’ve cried every single day since I found out. I even vomited from anxiety. This is absolutely the worst time of my life.”

Unless the positive test is overturned through an expedited arbitration process, Hardy will miss what was supposed to be her first Olympics and face a mandatory two-year doping ban.

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