Home Sports US distance runner Shelby Houlihan LOSES appeal against her four-year drugs ban

US distance runner Shelby Houlihan LOSES appeal against her four-year drugs ban

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US distance runner Shelby Houlihan has lost her appeal against her four-year drugs ban for a failed steroid test, the Court of Arbitration for Sport announced on Wednesday. 

Houlihan, the American record holder at 1,500 and 5,000 meters, missed the Tokyo Olympic Games as a result of the positive sample, which she says was due to a pork burrito from a Mexican food truck she ate the night before her test. 

The 28-year-old denied she had knowingly taken a prohibited substance, insisting in June: ‘I don’t think I should be serving a four-year ban for something that I didn’t do.’

However, CAS confirmed today that she had lost her appeal against her ban, with a summary stating: ‘First, the Panel finds it possible but unlikely that the Athlete’s burrito contained boar offal. 

‘Second, the Panel finds it possible but unlikely that the ingestion of boar offal would have resulted in the urinary concentration of 19-NA found in the Athlete’s A- and B- Samples. 137. 

‘Third, the Panel finds it possible but not probable that the ingestion of boar offal would have resulted in the Athlete’s reported urinary concentration of 19-NA or her carbon isotope ratio of -23‰. 138. 

‘Fourth, the Panel finds that neither the hair analysis nor the polygraph results are sufficient.’

US distance runner Shelby Houlihan has lost her appeal against her four-year drugs ban for a failed steroid test, CAS announced on Wednesday

US distance runner Shelby Houlihan has lost her appeal against her four-year drugs ban for a failed steroid test, CAS announced on Wednesday 

CAS confirmed today that she had lost her appeal against her ban (see summary above)

CAS confirmed today that she had lost her appeal against her ban (see summary above) 

As a result, the four-year ban – starting on 14 January 2021 – has been upheld. 

Houlihan, who was considered a medal contender for the Tokyo Olympics, thought the positive result might have come from eating pork, which she said could lead to a false positive for nandrolone, the night before the test. 

According to a 2000 study in the National Library of Medicine, the consumption of ‘non-castrated male pork’ can cause a spike in nandrolone levels.     

Speaking with Fox News in June, Houlihan said she never tested positive for a banned substance in her life and has never even missed a test.

Speaking with Fox News in June, Houlihan said she never tested positive for a banned substance in her life and has never even missed a test

Speaking with Fox News in June, Houlihan said she never tested positive for a banned substance in her life and has never even missed a test 

Houlihan, a former Arizona State star and a 12-time Division I All-American, claims she even passed a lie detector test

Houlihan, a former Arizona State star and a 12-time Division I All-American, claims she even passed a lie detector test 

She then went on to explain how she could have failed the test by ingesting a burrito from a Mexican food truck near her home in Beaverton, Oregon.

‘From what I’ve been told nandrolone is high… pig offal has high concentrations of nandrolone,’ she said. 

‘This food truck that I happened to go to that night – I’ve eaten there a lot before – and this food truck serves pig offal as part of their menu and I think I happened to ingest this hormone and 10 hours later, at the peak of when it’s supposed to be in your body and you’re digesting it, I happened to get tested and honestly it’s a very unlucky series of events.

‘I’m kinda blown away by what happened and I can’t believe I’m going through this as a clean athlete.’

Houlihan, a former Arizona State star and a 12-time Division I All-American, claims she even passed a lie detector test.

‘I did everything I could to prove my innocence,’ she said in Monday’s statement. ‘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.

‘Nothing moved the lab from their initial snap decision.’ 

Houlihan is not the first athlete to blame a failed drug test on tainted meat. 

Boxer Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez blamed his 2018 positive test for clenbuterol on tainted Mexican beef. Testing agencies have even warned about food possibly being tainted by clenbuterol, which has not actually been proven to increase muscle mass, but can help with weight loss. 

Houlihan is certainly not the first athlete to blame a failed drug test on tainted meat - boxer Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (L) blamed his 2018 positive test for clenbuterol on tainted Mexican beef

Houlihan is certainly not the first athlete to blame a failed drug test on tainted meat – boxer Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (L) blamed his 2018 positive test for clenbuterol on tainted Mexican beef

Several famous athletes have tested positive for nandrolone in the past, including Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Starling Marte, who received an 80-game suspension for the substance in 2017.

Testing positive for a banned level of nandrolone is possible if one eats enough ‘non-castrated male pork,’ according to the aforementioned 2000 study published in the National Library of Medicine. 

‘We have thus proved that eating tissues of non-castrated male pork (in which 17beta-nandrolone is present) might induce some false accusations of the abuse of nandrolone in antidoping,’ read an abstract on PubMed.Gov.  

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