Olympics runner Shelby Houlihan who has been banned for four years after testing positive for anabolic steroids, has attributed it to a pork burrito.
Houlihan said she was devastated to learn of the suspension from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), an independent body that combats doping, after she tested positive for nandrolone.
In an Instagram post, Houlihan said a burrito she ate before the test contained pig organ meat, or offal, which she said can lead to a positive test for nandrolone.
A study funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found trace amounts of nandrolone found samples in that kind of meat and warned about the possibility of a false positive.
The ban will prevent the 28-year-old from competing in upcoming US Olympic Trials and the Tokyo Olympic Games. Doping accusations and investigations have led to multiple bans of athletes and even entire countries from competing, including a two-year ban on Russia from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The runner said she received an email from AIU on January 14, 2021, informing her that a drug test she took December 15, 2020, returned positive for nandrolone.
“When I got that email, I had to read it over about ten times and google what it was that I had just tested positive for,” she said in the post. “I had never even heard of nandrolone.”
Houlihan said she did everything she could to prove her innocence and return to her beloved sport, including passing a polygraph test and having her hair sampled.
“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,” Houlihan said.
Houlihan’s coach Jerry Schumacher called out the organizations that banned the runner in a statement Monday, saying AIU and WADA are treating her “unfairly,” and preventing her from competing in the Olympics despite knowing about the issue with pork and nandrolone.