American track star Shelby Houlihan, a 2016 Olympian and the U.S. record holder in the 1,500m and 5,000m, took to Instagram Monday to argue that her positive test for the steroid nandrolone came from eating… wait for it… a pork burrito.
According to Houlihan, she received an email from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) in January that the drug test she took in December came back with “an Adverse Analytical Finding for an anabolic steroid called 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,” she wrote. “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.”
The 28-year-old runner continued:
“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.”
As odd as this scenario may seem, it sounds like Houlihan did her research. She even passed a polygraph test and had her hair sampled by toxicologists in an attempt to prove her innocence and get back on the track.
“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 added. “Nothing moved the lab from their initial snap decision. Instead, they simply concluded that I was a cheater and that a steroid was ingested orally, but not regularly. I believe my explanation fits the facts much better — because it’s true. I also believe it was dismissed without proper due process.”
Houlihan also explained her situation to the Court of Arbitration for Sport but it objected to her findings and banned her from the sport for four years.
“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,” she said.
Obviously, Houlihan will not get the chance to compete in the postponed Tokyo Games this summer.
“I want to be very clear. I have never taken any performance enhancing substances. And that includes that of which I am being accused,” said the runner. “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.”