Swimming-Hardy retracing her roots after stormy few years

Wed Sep 3, 2014 3:41am EDT
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By Yaocheng Lee

SINGAPORE, Sept 3 (Reuters) - After years of turbulence, Jessica Hardy has gone full circle, returning to the event that launched her rocky swimming career.

Once the world's premier female breaststroke swimmer, the American has set her sights on regaining her mantle after a choppy few years when everything seemed against her.

Hardy qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics but never made it to the Chinese capital after she was told she had tested positive for the banned steroid clenbuterol at the U.S. trials.

The offense normally carries a two-year ban but the Californian was given a reduced penalty when she was able to prove that she taken a nutritional supplement that had been contaminated by the manufacturers.

But the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) lodged an appeal, demanding that she be given a two-year penalty and banned from competing at the 2012 London Olympics.

The case was only resolved in 2011 when the International Olympic Committee and the Court of Arbitration said she had served her punishment and could compete in London.

But then the oddest thing happened, the Californian failed to qualify in her pet event - the 100 meters breaststroke - compounding her worst fears.

Fueled by anger and disappointment, she made the team in the 4x100m freestyle and went on to win a gold medal in London, in the medley relay.   Continued...