Tara Kirk's worst fears have been realised, as Jessica Hardy is forced to withdraw from the Olympic swimming team.
Hardy tested positive for a banned substance four weeks ago, and participated in arbitration this past week. The American Arbitration Association decided on a 2-year suspension for Jessica Hardy, and Hardy has decided not to appeal.
For Tara Kirk, who barely missed making the U.S. Olympic Swim Team, Hardy's withdrawal is particularly painful. Because Kirk's name was not included on the official team roster, she cannot step into Hardy's slot -- instead, Hardy's vacancy will be filled by a current member of Team USA.
USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus explained:
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
This is a very disappointing outcome for fans of USA Swimming, and particularly for Tara Kirk. Let's hope that the remaining members of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team will rise to the occasion and make us proud in Beijing.