Track and Field·Bring It In

Burritogate: Banned U.S. runner Shelby Houlihan's steroid excuse falls flat

On the latest episode of the CBC Sports video series Bring It In, hosts Morgan Campbell and Meghan McPeak are joined by guest panellist Dave Zirin to discuss Houlihan's four-year ban for an anabolic steroid and the believability of her burrito excuse. 

Bring It In panel discusses runner's claim that positive test was caused by pork burrito

Shelby Houlihan, the U.S. record-holder in the 1,500 and 5,000 metres, saw her four-year ban for nandrolone upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last week after she was unable to prove her claim that the positive test was caused by eating a pork burrito. (Seth Wenig/The Associated Press)

U.S. runner Shelby Houlihan's four-year ban for testing positive for the performance enhancing substance nandrolone was upheld by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport last week.

The 28-year-old American record-holder in the 1,500 and 5,000 metres was unable to prove her claim that the positive test for the anabolic steroid was caused by eating a pork burrito purchased from a food truck near her house in Beaverton, Ore.

Houlihan was considered a medal contender heading into the upcoming Olympics, but she will now be be forced to miss the Tokyo Games and 2024 Olympics in Paris while also dealing with a tarnished reputation.

On the latest episode of the CBC Sports video series Bring It In, Morgan Campbell is joined by Meghan McPeak and Dave Zirin to discuss Houlihan's four-year ban and the believability of her burrito excuse. The panel also reacts to the news that 10,000 local spectators will be permitted to attend the Tokyo Olympics.

WATCH | Bring It In panel discusses Houlihan's competition ban:

Burritogate: The latest on Shelby Houlihan’s competition ban

3 months ago
11:25
Morgan Campbell, Meghan McPeak, and Dave Zirin discuss Shelby Houlihan’s four year competition ban from a positive drug test in January 2021. 11:25

Houlihan's coach, Jerry Schumacher of the Bowerman Track Club, claimed in a statement that he had never heard of the performance enhancing drug nandrolone. But Campbell finds that highly unlikely given the list of notable athletes who previously tested positive for the banned substance over the years.

The substance has been banned by the International Olympic Committee since 1974.

"You're a professional track coach in this environment where positive tests for all types of drugs, nandrolone included, happen all the time and you've never heard of this drug?" Campbell questioned.

Along with the ban, McPeak pointed out that Houlihan damaged her reputation while also throwing a local business under the bus with her unsubstantiated excuse.

"Her credibility is out the window," McPeak said. "They didn't believe it, they saw through it.

"Then you now take a business which really and truly had nothing to do with this entire story . . . now you're putting their business on the line. You're jeopardizing them making money and being able to take care of their family."

McPeak spoke about the need for athletes, particularly in track and field, to get better public relations teams that are actually equipped to provide the right advice.

Zirin made the point that Houlihan and her team only made things more difficult in the long run by refusing to take ownership.

"We know that the fraud took place, and we know that there needs to be repercussions. I think when they try to move beyond that with excuses and stories and tall tales, they're really just taking a bad problem and making it worse," Zirin said.

The panel also brings up some important questions and concerns in reaction to the news that 10,000 Japanese spectators will be allowed to attend the Summer Games in Tokyo.

WATCH | Bring It In panel discusses merit of spectators at Tokyo Games:

Olympics to allow up to 10,000 spectators in Tokyo

3 months ago
2:56
Morgan Campbell, Meghan McPeak, and Dave Zirin break down the latest news that the Tokyo Olympics will allow up to 10,000 spectators at some events. 2:56

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