Suspended Shelby Houlihan Blames Steroid on Burrito

Olympic runner is out of the Tokyo Olympics after flunking drug test
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2021 12:46 PM CDT
Suspended Shelby Houlihan Blames Steroid on Burrito
Shelby Houlihan crosses the finish line as she wins the women's 5,000-meter run at the US Championships in Des Moines in 2019. She's been barred from competition for four years.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Shelby Houlihan says her mistake wasn't taking a performance-enhancing substance. It was grabbing a burrito from an "authentic Mexican food truck" near her home in Oregon 10 hours before providing a sample for a drug test. The test results came back positive, and the US Olympic runner now has been suspended for four years, TMZ reports. Houlihan argues in an Instagram post that the banned substance, nandrolone, has been known to show up in small amounts in pig organ meat, or offal, and bring about a positive test, per CNN. Houlihan said she's never taken a performance-enhancing drug. "I had never even heard of nandrolone," she said. The World Anti-Doping Agency didn't buy her defense and barred her from competition last week. "I feel completely devastated, lost, broken, angry, confused and betrayed by the very sport that I've loved," Houlihan said.

That means Houlihan, 28, who holds US records for the 1,500- and 5,000-meter runs, will be left out of the Olympic Trials and the Olympic Games scheduled to begin next month in Tokyo, per the AP. She ran 11th in the 5,000 meters at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Houlihan said she did what she could to convince the agency she didn't cheat, per the Guardian: "I passed a polygraph test. I had my hair sampled by one of the world’s foremost toxicologists." The test showed there was no buildup of the anabolic steroid in her system, she said, but the decision stood. Her coach criticized the agency and the Athletics Integrity Unit. "Shame on you for not caring about the truth," Jerry Schumacher said. The head of the AIU said an independent panel made its decision after hearing from everyone. Her lawyer said Houlihan's team could appeal to the Swiss federal tribunal. (More anabolic steroids stories.)

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