U.S. Olympic runner Shelby Houlihan says she is living a nightmare. She has been banned from the sport of track and field for four years, after testing positive for trace amounts of the performance enhancer nandrolone.
"I feel devastated, lost, broken, angry, confused and betrayed by the very sport that I loved and poured myself into," Said Shelby Houlihan.
Houlihan says the substance entered her system after she ate a pork burrito from a food truck ten hours before she was tested in December of 2020.
"I’ve never even heard of nandrolone before. I’ve since learned that it has long over understood by the world anti-doping agency that eating pork can lead to a false positive for nandrolone." says Houlihan.
Lisa Cohn nutrition director at Park Avenue Nutrition says it is generally unlikely, but a link is possible.
"It is not typical, but the nature of pork products the fattier the better, what often happens, the people who purchase food and purchase pork product are looking for tasty and looking for price point and often the producer is doing things to enable to get that pork to market faster," says Cohn.
She says if that was the case then the food vendor needs to be questioned. "The USDA is really responsible for monitoring what is in pork products, if that’s the food she's proposing where the source is. We need to get information from them because food is tested even from a local van."
Houlihan has lawyered up. Despite her ban, she filed for an appeal but it was denied, which means her dreams of winning a gold medal in the Olympics this summer have ended.
However a similar situation has happened to other track stars in the past. Both Ajeé Wilson and Jarrion Lawson were banned for testing positive for a prohibited substance they were later cleared after officials determined they had eaten tainted meat.
Houlihan says she will continue to fight to prove her innocence, will not sit down and accept the 4-year ban for something she says she did not do.
"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 top toxicologist, that test proved there was no built up of that substance in my body, there would be if I had taken it regularly," said Houlihan.