American distance runner Shelby Houlihan, who owns the records for the 1,500 and 5,000 metres, was informed in January that she had tested positive for an anabolic steroid. Houlihan’s defence hinged, in large part, on the positive test she got after eating a pork burrito from a Mexican street food truck, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed the verdict on Tuesday.
Record-Setting American Middle Distance Runner Shelby Houlihan
Houlihan claims she was unaware of the steroid nandrolone until she tested positive for it. She allegedly explained the link between the steroid and the burrito in an Instagram post she made on Tuesday.
Because her suspension doesn’t end until January 2025, she will miss out on the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and the 2024 Paris Olympics. She also misses out on the opportunity to compete in the first-ever U.S.-hosted track world championships in Eugene, Oregon, in 2022.
Despite proof that she did not take the steroid routinely — evidence that WADA supposedly recognised — the decision was made with a 2-1 majority.
She categorically rejects any suggestion that she ever cheated or used performance-enhancing drugs.
She goes on to say, “I don’t do this for the praises, money, or for people to know my name,” in her post. “I do it because I enjoy it so much.”
In 2019, Houlihan ran the 1,500-meter race in a world-record 3 minutes, 54.99 seconds in Doha, Qatar. After running the 5,000-meter distance in 14 minutes and 23.92 seconds, she set a new world record in Portland, Oregon, in 2017. You can read her complete Instagram post here.
In the past half a year, I’ve learnt that several track and field organisations have turned their backs on clean athletes. To make sports safer for participants, we must implement drug testing, and strict drug testing at that. It has my unwavering backing. However, the structure of the system is flawed. It’s a system that used to safeguard clean athletes but now destroys them. If we, as coaches and players, continue to shrug this off, it is likely to continue happening. Our athletes deserve better, therefore I hope we start demanding it.