USA Runner Shelby Houlihan Blames Burrito for Positive Drug Test, 4-Year Ban

Adam WellsJune 15, 2021

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO - FEBRUARY 14: Shelby Houlihan crosses the finish line to win the Women's 3000 M during the 2020 Toyota USATF Indoor Championships at Albuquerque Convention Center on February 14, 2020 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

United States distance runner Shelby Houlihan has received a four-year ban from competition for failing a drug test.

In a statement on Instagram, Houlihan said her positive sample from a December drug test for the anabolic steroid nandrolone was due to pork in a burrito that she ate:

"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 [Athletics Integrity Unit] that I believed this was the source."

Houlihan noted her levels "were consistent with those of subjects in studies who were tested 10 hours after eating this source" and accused the World Anti-Doping Agency of not following technical guidelines by ignoring the possibility the finding could've come from pork consumption.

"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 wrote.

The 2016 Olympian said the Court of Arbitration for Sport denied her appeal June 11, leading to her ban from the sport for the next four years. 

Houlihan, 28, competed in the women's 5,000 meters at the 2016 Olympics. She placed 11th in the final in Rio de Janeiro. The Iowa native won the women's 5,000 meters and 1,500 meters at the 2019 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.


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