(NEW YORK) — Just days before the US Olympic Track Trials begin, Shelby Houlihan, the American record holder in the 1,500 and 5,000 meter runs, has announced on Instagram the World Anti-Doping Agency has banned her for four years because of a positive test for the anabolic steroid called Nandrolone.
In the post, the 2016 Olympian says she was notified on January 14 from the Athletics Integrity Unit that a sample she provided on December 15, 2020, came back as an “adverse analytical finding” for the steroid and she was subject to an immediate provincial suspension.
Houlihan said she had never heard of the drug and subsequently found out from WADA eating pork can lead to a false positive since certain types of pigs have a naturally high level of nandrolone.
“In the following 5 days after being notified, I put together a food log of everything that I consumed the week of that December 15th test,” she wrote. “We concluded that the most likely explanation was a burrito purchased and consumed approximately 10 hours before that drug test from an authentic Mexican food truck that serves pig offal near my house in Beaverton, Oregon.”
She says despite studies showing her levels were consistent with subjects who tested positive in the same time frame and WADA guidelines requiring the lab to consider it, the lab that was used never considered the possibility.
Houlihan detailed that she spoke with experts, took a polygraph test, and sent in a hair sample to a top toxicologist to prove her innocence.
“WADA agreed that test proved that there was no build-up of this substance in my body, which there would have been if I were taking it regularly,” she wrote.
Houlihan appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration citing her evidence, but on June 11 her explanation was not accepted and she was suspended for four years.
“I feel completely devastated, lost, broken, angry, confused and betrayed by the very sport that I’ve loved and poured myself into just to see how good I was,” she wrote.
Her coach Jerry Schumacher and a number of teammates have come to her defense.
Houlihan was ranked first in the 1,500 meters run with a time of 3:54.99, and was ranked 11th in the 5,000 meter run with a time of 15:02.55, according to Flotrack.
The Olympic Track trials begin on Friday.
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