Source: www.insidethegames.com

Jessica HardyAmerican swimmer Jessica Hardy, who missed the Beijing Olympics in 2008 because of a doping violation, has been cleared for next year's Games in London after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) told her she would not be subject to the controversial rule that threatened her eligibility.

Hardy, the 2007 world 50 metres breaststroke champion, was banned from the Beijing Games only a few weeks before they started after she tested positive for clenbuterol.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) later ruled that the Long Beach swimmer was not at fault for taking a contaminated dietary supplement.

But she still received a one-year suspension, which subjected her to the IOC's six month rule that bars any athlete who has been banned for more than half-a-year from competing in the next Olympics.

The IOC has now notified, however, her that she was not subject to the rule because it went into effect so close in time to the positive test.

The IOC also looked favourably on the fact that Hardy voluntarily withdrew from Beijing while her case was still pending, in hopes of not also having to miss London.

"I am ecstatic that the IOC has recognised my unique situation, and that this rule does not apply to me," 24-year-old Hardy said in a statement released through her lawyer, Howard Jacobs.

"With this final hurdle now behind me, I can now focus 100 per cent of my efforts on preparing for and representing my country at next year's Olympic Games, a lifelong dream that was taken away from me in 2008."

News of her reinstatement came in the same week the IOC and United States Olympic Committee (USOC) agreed to let CAS rule on the validity of the six month rule, which is viewed by many critics as a rule that penalises athletes twice for a single doping violation.

American sprinter LaShawn Merritt's Olympic fate will be tied to that decision.

Merritt, the defending Olympic and world champion in the 400m, is serving a 21-month suspension that ends in July.

He would be eligible for the Olympics under that timeline but must wait to see if the CAS upholds the IOC rule.

The IOC and USOC agreed it would be better to figure out this rule well before the Olympics to avoid confusion in the lead-up to trials and the Olympics next year.

USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said they welcomed the news about Hardy but did not expect it to have any effect on the case impacting Merritt.

"We see these as totally separate issues that are unrelated and have no bearing on each other," he said.


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