Shelby Houlihan, the American record holder in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters, announced on social media
that she has been barred from competing for four years after testing positive for what she believes was tainted pork
Houlihan made the announcement on her Instagram
account on Monday, just days before the start of the US Olympic track and field
trials in Eugene, Oregon
, where the top three in each event earn a spot in the postponed Tokyo Games. She finished 11th in the 5,000 meters at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics
The 28-year-old Houlihan said she received an email from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) on Jan. 14 informing her that a drug testing sample had returned a finding for the anabolic steroid nandrolone. She's since learned that it's "long been understood by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) that eating pork can lead to a false positive for nandrolone, because certain types of pigs
produce it naturally."
Houlihan kept track of everything she ate in the weeks leading up to the Dec. 15 test, which yielded the anabolic steroid's negative analytical finding.
“We concluded that the most likely explanation was a burrito purchased and consumed approximately 10 hours prior to that drug test from an authentic Mexican food
truck that serves pig offal near my house
in Beaverton, Oregon,” Houlihan wrote, adding, “I notified the AIU that I believed this was the source.”
Her agent was notified via email and text.
Houlihan continued, "although my levels were consistent with those of subjects in studies who were tested 10 hours after eating this source, and WADA technical guidelines require the lab to consider it when analyzing nandrolone, the lab never accounted for this possibility, and they could have reported this as an atypical finding and followed up with further testing."
She claimed she passed a polygraph test and that toxicologists examined a hair
“WADA agreed that test proved that there was no build up of this substance in my body
, which there would have been if I had been taking it regularly,” Houlihan wrote. “Instead, they simply concluded that I was a cheater and that a steroid was ingested orally, but not regularly.
Houlihan stated that the Court of Arbitration for Sport “did not accept my explanation of what occurred and has subsequently banned me from the sport for four years” last Friday.
“I feel completely devastated, lost, broken, angry, confused, and betrayed by the very sport that I’ve loved and poured my heart and soul into just to see how good I was,” Houlihan wrote.
On October 5, 2019, she set the American 1,500-meter record of 3:54.99 seconds at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Houlihan set the American 5,000-meter record last July in Portland, Oregon, with a time of 14:23.92.
“I want to be very clear. I have never taken any performance enhancing substances, including those of which I am accused,” Houlihan wrote. “I believe in the sport and pushing your body to the limit just to see where the limit is. I’m not interested in cheating. I don’t do this for the accolades, money
, or for people
to know my name. I do it because I love it.