Record-setting American middle distance runner Shelby Houlihan tests positive for anabolic steroid

A dominant American middle distance runner has been banned for four years after testing positive for an anabolic steroid that she believes came from a burrito. 

Shelby Houlihan, the reigning national champion and American record-holder at both 1,500 and 5,000 meters, wrote on social media Monday that she was provisionally banned by the Athletics Integrity Unit after testing positive for nandrolone, which has been found in pork.

The 28-year-old wrote that she appealed the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and was informed Friday that they did not accept her explanation.

"I feel completely devastated, lost, broken, angry, confused and betrayed by the very sport that I’ve loved and poured myself into just to see how good I was," Houlihan wrote in an Instagram post.

"I want to be very clear. I have never taken any performance enhancing substances. And that includes that of which I am being accused. I believe in the sport and pushing your body to the limit just to see where the limit is. I’m not interested in cheating. I don’t do this for the accolades, money, or for people to know my name. I do this because I love it. I have so much fun doing it and it’s always the best part of my day."

Shelby Houlihan wins the women's 3,000-meter race in 8:52.03 during the USATF Indoor Championships at Albuquerque Convention Center on Feb. 14, 2020. (Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)

The AIU – which runs the anti-doping program for track and field's international governing body, World Athletics – had not announced Houlihan's ban as of Monday evening. 

The news comes less than a week before the start of the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, and a little more than a month before the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, where Houlihan was expected to contend for a medal.

Houlihan's coach, Jerry Schumacher, called the ban "a great tragedy in the history of American distance running."

"She just might be the best 1500m runner in the world this year, but we will never get the opportunity to find out," Schumacher wrote in a letter posted online. "And that’s a tragedy."

Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.

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