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Upon the release of the 44-page full report from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), on American runner, Shelby Houlihan’s four-year suspension and appeal (to the CAS), her next course of action is to appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal (Supreme Court of Switzerland).

The document, released by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) on Wednesday, provides an exhaustive explanation as to why her appeal was denied. However, the three-time national record holder maintains her innocence.

Shelby Houlihan at Victoria Track Classic, Victoria, BC

The 28-year-old told Athletics Illustrated, “Our next step is to file an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.”

Despite the detailed report, Houlihan continues to feel that pig offal containing nandrolone is the primary logical explanation for the positive drug test.

“We tested all of my vitamins and supplements which all came back negative. Unfortunately, there were a couple that we didn’t have the original batches of because I was notified a month later and those supplements were already consumed,” shared Houlihan. 

The full report is available here>>

“For us, looking at all of the possibilities, we knew that pig offal was a natural source of nandrolone and that eating it could elevate the levels in the body. We knew that I had eaten a burrito from a food truck that also served pig offal approximately 10 hours prior to that. We knew that when you ingest pig offal that contains nandrolone, the levels of that hormone in the body reach its peak around 10 hours after consumption. To us, this was the most logical explanation of how this could have happened. The only thing that we truly did know with 100% certainty was that I did not intentionally take that substance or any other prohibited substance in any form.” 

Houlihan appealed her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), however, the organisation upheld the ban. Houlihan subsequently wrote on her Facebook page that on January 14, 2021, she was notified by the AIU of the positive test result. She went on to say that she has dedicated her life to the sport and would never cheat.

“On January 14th, 2021, I received an email from the AIU, informing me a drug testing sample that I provided on December 15th, 2020 has returned as an Adverse Analytical Finding for a steroid called nandrolone and that I am therefore subject to an immediate Provisional Suspension. When I got that email, I had to read it over about ten times and google what it was that I had just tested positive for. I had never even heard of nandrolone.

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.”

Houlihan holds national records in the 1500m (3:54.99), 5000m (14:23.92), and 4 x 1500m relay (16:27.02). She made the finals of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in the 1500m distance and finished fourth in the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships 1500m.

During a virtual press conference, Houlihan and her coach, Jerry Schumacher, said that until the positive test result, neither had heard of the anabolic steroid. Shalane Flanagan also attended and defended her.

The case is not over yet.