Now one of the rising stars of the U.S. Olympic swimming team is in the fight of her athletic life after testing positive for a banned stimulant, CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports.
The 21-year-old Hardy, who still owns the American record in her specialty, earned a spot on her first Olympic team by winning the 100-meter breaststroke at the recent trials, and qualified in two other key events.
Her potential ban suddenly dealing a major blow -- and a black eye -- to the team's overall medal hopes in Bejing.
"Any swimmer who does well is now shrouded in the shadow of this controversy and there will always be suspicion," said John Naber, four-time Olympic gold medalist.
Hardy's attorney, Howard Jacobs, told CBS News his client tested positive for what he called "low levels" of clenbuterol, an illegal, muscle-building, fat-burning drug. He said Hardy was tested three times between July 1st and July 6th, but only tested positive once during the trials, on July 4th, the date of her second test.
Hardy denies doping, saying, "I never did anything wrong. I never cheated."
If found guilty, Hardy, who is no longer training with the team, faces up to a two year ban.
An "expedited" appeal has already been launched. But with the opening of the Summer Games just two weeks away -- and positive drug tests almost never overturned -- at least this one shot at Olympic glory is looking, increasingly, dead in the water.