Shelby Houlihan, a U.S. Olympic runner who holds the American record in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters, announced that she has been banned for four years due to a positive steroid test. She revealed that the positive test came from a tainted pork burrito. The news comes days before the start of the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon.
"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." Houlihan wrote in an Instagram post. "I want to be very clear. I have never taken any performance enhancing substances. And that includes that of which I am being accused. 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 this because I love it. I have so much fun doing it and it’s always the best part of my day."
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Houlihan revealed that she received an email from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) on January 14 and it informed her that a drug testing sampling she provided on December 15, 2020, returned as an "Adverse Analytical Finding for an anabolic steroid called Nandrolone and that I am therefore subject to an immediate Provisional Suspension." She said that she has never heard of Nandrolone, and when she read more about it, she learned that eating pork can lead to a false positive for the steroid, according to the World Anti-Dopping Agency.
After looking back at the food she ate, Houlihan discovered she ate a pork burrito 10 hours before the drug test. She explained to the AIU about the situation, and after taking and passing a polygraph test and giving hair samples, the Court of Arbitration still banned Houlihan for four years.
Houlihan was set to compete in the Olympics for the second time. She qualified for the 2016 Olympics in the women's 5,000 meters and finished in 11th place in the final. However, her time of 15:08.98 was the highest of any American in the race. Houlihan also competed at Arizona State and was a 12-time All-American. She won the NCAA Championship for the 1,500 meters race in 2014.