Olympic runner Shelby Houlihan has been banned from the sport for four years after testing positive for anabolic steroids and she believes a pork burrito she ate is the cause.
The 28-year-old runner took the drug test on December 15, 2020 and was devastated when she received an email from the Athletics Integrity Unit on January 14, 2021 informing her she had tested 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. I had never even heard of nandrolone.
Nandrolone is a synthetic, anabolic steroid analog of testosterone that can be used for testosterone replacement therapy to increase nitrogen retention and fat-free muscle mass.
When Shelby Houlihan learned she had tested positive, she immediately put together a food log of everything she ate prior to the test.
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 (offal) has the highest levels 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. 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. I notified the AIU that I believed this was the source.
Unfortunately, on June 11, Shelby Houlihan learned her explanation was not accepted by the Court of Arbitration, prompting the four-year ban.
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. I want to be very clear. I have never taken any performance-enhancing substances. And that includes that of which I am being accused.
Read her full statement below.
This is horrible and I can’t imagine how heartbroken Shelby must be.