Runner Shelby Houlihan vowed to exhaust every option in her fight to reverse a four-year ban she received for testing positive for a banned substance she says was in a tainted burrito.
Houlihan, who holds multiple U.S. distance records, revealed Monday that she received the ban just days before U.S. Olympic trials. She said she tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone and later discovered the drug is found in pig offal. She said she ate a burrito that contained pig offal before her test and said that was the reason why she failed.
On Wednesday, Houlihan, in an exclusive interview on Fox News Channel’s "America’s Newsroom," told co-anchor Dana Perino she is still currently banned from competing for four years.
"I’m trying to seek every option that we can to appeal this. It’s not right. I don’t think I should be serving a four-year ban for something that I didn’t do. We’re trying to exhaust every option that we can," Houlihan said.
She told Bill Hemmer she had never had a positive test and never missed a drug test.
Houlihan explained how the drug would have appeared on her test after eating a burrito.
"From what I’ve been told nandrolone is high … pig offal has high concentrations of nandrolone. 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 your digesting it, I happened to get tested and honestly it’s a very unlucky series of events," she said. "I’m kinda blown away by what happened and I can't believe I’m going through this as a clean athlete."
Houlihan made clear that she didn’t cheat and was committed to the appeal process.
"I’m putting all my trust in the process. I’ve tried to so far and honestly it’s failed me. But I’m going to keep trusting that the truth will come out and that I will be able to compete in the coming years. I think I’m going to miss the trials this year unfortunately. I worked really hard and I’m in the best shape of my life right now but I’m trying to trust the process and hope that … I can get justice from this."
Houlihan’s attorney Paul Greene said his client’s urine should be the focal point of the investigation.
"Her urine was consistent with the consumption of pork that was containing high levels of nandrolone. We told this to the lab before her B-sample was tested. Under the rules they were supposed to account for it. When your urinary markers are where they were with Shelby’s – in the very, very low range – it is impossible for the machine that does the testing to distinguish between these two," Greene said. "There’s a way to do that called an atypical finding and that’s what we think should have been done in Shelby’s case and it wasn’t."
Houlihan starred at Arizona State and was a 12-time Division I All-American. She won a gold medal at the 2014 NACAC U23 Championships in Athletics and a silver in the 2018 Continental Cup.
She set her record in the 1,500-meter at the world championships in Doha, Qatar, in October 2019 with a time of 3 minutes, 54.99 seconds. She broke the U.S. 5,000-meter mark with a time of 14:23.92 in Portland, Oregon, in July 2020.
She represented the U.S. in the 2016 Rio Games and finished in 11th place in the 5,000 meters.