When one looks at the finer details as to how a USA Swimming Olympic team is put together, one sees a "sausage factory" and the swimmers are its "pork bellies."
When Jessica Hardy tested positive for Clenbuterol at the 2008 Olympic Trials, she was ultimately denied a berth on the 2008 US Olympic team for a doping violation. Next in line to replace her in the 100m breaststroke would have been Tara Kirk. However, Tara Kirk was immediately denied that spot due to sloppy scheduling and poor administrative practices by USA Swimming in regards to the handling of drug tests and even the timing of the Olympic trials themselves. But could the protestations of Rebecca Soni to allow Kirk onto the US Olympic team have had an effect as well?
The time-line went like this:
On July 4th, 2008, Jessica Hardy was scheduled to swim in 'Event 108' the 100m breaststroke. Hardy would swim against the following athletes: Amanda Beard, Rebecca Soni, Meghan Jendrick, Annie Chandler, Lindsay Payne, Elizabeth Tinnon and finally Tara Kirk.
The top four results:
1. Jessica HardyOn that day Jessica Hardy submitted two "A" and "B" urine samples for drug testing at the USADA labs; (US Anti-Doping Agency labs), Sample "A" was tested first and came up positive. This test result was sent directly to and received by USA Swimming on Friday, July 18th, 2008. This is an important date to remember since USA Swimming had to identity their Olympic team members on or before July 21, 2008, or replace disqualified team members with existing Team members.
2. Meghan Jendrick
3. Tara Kirk
4. Rebecca Soni
On the following Monday morning, July 21st, USA Swimming fully knew that Jessica Hardy had flunked both her doping tests but this was the day they had to declare a team!
Though it was late July, there was still time for Tara Kirk to be placed on the Olympic team. John Ruger, the US Olympic Committee's athlete ombudsman; (An official appointed to investigate individual athlete complaints against maladministration), stated to Mark Schubert that he would have the USOC petition both FINA and the Beijing Olympic Committee to allow Kirk to swim. Olympic Team Coach Mark Schubert decided to go with the "drop-dead-deadline" rule instead and not make that request presumably because he knew Hardy had due process avenues.
Though Tara Kirk broke no rules, made no mistakes and did what she was told, it was the poor execution and timing of the USA Swimming Olympic trials that severely punished Tara Kirk and denied her a spot on the US Olympic team. This was not fair - thus USA Swimming and Tara Kirk went to arbitration.
Kirk quickly hired lawyers, Richard R. Young and Steven B. Smith of Holme Roberts & Owen, LLP to represent her grievance to the execs at USA Swimming but then something odd happened...
Enter Rebecca Soni: Though Soni technically was not a party to such a hearing, Soni enters her objections in having Tara Kirk added to the team by way of a lawyer named Blake Lawit, of Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin.
To be clear, saying that Soni was technically not a party to such a hearing are not my words but rather those of the arbitrator, Alfred G. Harris who subsequently states the following:
"...Though not technically a party, Rebecca Soni ("Soni") is an interested person and was granted the right to interpose her objections to the injunctive relief sought by Kirk at this expedited hearing. For purposes of this Decision and Interim Award, any general references to "Parties" will include Soni, unless the context indicates otherwise."With Soni "armed" with lawyers and named as an "interested person" and then compile that with USA Swimming lawyers who were arguing against Tara Kirk as well, one has to ask whether Tara Kirk's request for relief was essentially "double teamed" by lawyers?
I wonder what Soni's objections were and why were they not mentioned in the "memorializing of the oral Decision" provided to all the lawyers on August 7, 2008? This is not a rhetorical question.
On August 12, 2008, the womens 100m breaststroke Olympic final took place. The results below:
1. Liesel Jones (AUS)
2. Rebecca Soni (USA)
3. Mirna Jukić (Austria)
The reference for this blogpost is the "memorializing of the oral Decision" provided to counsel on August 7, 2008" located here at the TEAM USA website.
Welcome to USA Swimming's sausage factory. Natalie Coughlin is right: USA Swimming's holds their Olympic trials too close to the Olympic games with no regard to potential athlete issues, preparation, or justice requests. The 2008 Olympic trials are an example.
A large variety of sausage casings are produced world-wide using the intestines of pigs, sheep, goats, cattle and sometimes horses. Although the intestines were previously flushed, scraped and cleaned by hand, more recently, machinery has been used for large scale production. Sausages in the 1800s had no rules but today a sausage can contain no more than 50% of it's weight in fat. (Reference: Wikipedia)
"... Terms of the settlement were not announced, by mutual agreement. The parties issued a joint statement saying the matter had been "resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. ..."
[Link]Let's hope this does not happen again this year.