With just days to go until the Olympic track and field trials, Shelby Houlihan—who holds the U.S. record in the 1,500 and 5,000 meter races—revealed she's been banned from competing for four years following a positive steroid test result.
In a message to her Instagram followers on June 14, the 28-year-old runner maintained that the positive test came from eating a burrito in December that contained pig organ meat, which she said is known to have high amounts of nandrolone (an anabolic steroid). The Olympic athlete also noted that she received the results of her test in January and had to "google what she tested positive for."
"I had never even heard of nandrolone," she wrote. "I have since learned that it has long been understood by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) that eating pork can lead to a false positive for nandrolone, since certain types of pigs produce it naturally in high amounts. Pig organ meat has the highest levels of nandrolone."
Shelby also added that in the days after being notified of her results, she put together a food log of everything she consumed the week of the test—to which she said was able to conclude that it could have come from a burrito she purchased about ten hours before her test.
"I did everything I could to prove my innocence," she wrote. "I passed a polygraph test. I had my hair sampled by one of the world's foremost toxicologists. WADA agreed that test proved that there was no buildup of this substance in my body, which there would have been if I were taking it regularly. Nothing moved the lab from their initial snap decision. Instead, they simply concluded that I was a cheater and that a steroid was ingested orally, but not regularly. I believe my explanation fits the facts much better—because it's true. I also believe it was dismissed without proper due process."
The U.S. record holder went on to reveal that she received the Court of Arbitration's decision of the subsequent ban on June 11.
Shelby most recently won the 2020 U.S. indoor titles in the 1,500-meter and 3,000-meter races and finished 11th at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 5,000 meters. Despite the outcome of her test results, the athlete also added that she has "never taken any performance enhancing substances."
"I'm not interested in cheating," she wrote. "I don't do this for the accolades, money, or for people to know my name. I do this because I love it."
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