The US record holder in the women’s 1500 and 5000 meters, Shelby Houlihan, has tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid.
The 28-year-old Houlihan has been suspended from athletics by the AIU (Athletics Integrity Unit) for four years, backdated to 14 January, after testing positive for the banned substance nandrolone.
Nandrolone can improve an athlete's ability to train harder. It reduces tiredness, meaning athletes can recover quicker from a hard training session. It also helps the body to build muscle by producing more protein, which aids the development of muscle tissue.
"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," Houlihan wrote in an Instagram post.
"I want to be very clear. I have never taken any performance-enhancing substances. And that includes that of which I am being accused."
Houlihan blames pork burrito for positive nandrolone 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," she said.
"In the following five 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."
"I did everything I could to prove my innocence. I passed a polygraph test. I had my hair sampled by one of the world's foremost toxicologists.
"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 runs for the Nike-sponsored Bowerman Track Club which is based in Portland, Oregon and is coached by Jerry Schumacher and former marathon star Shalane Flanagan.
At the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, Houlihan finished 4th with a new American record of 3:54.99. Last year in July she set the American 5000m with 14:23.92run in Portland.
She will miss both Olympics - the Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024.
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