US Olympic runner Shelby Houlihan has revealed she has been banned from competing for four years for testing positive for a prohibited substance - and has blamed a burrito.
The 1500m and 5000m American record holder was told in January that the anabolic steroid nandrolone had been found in a doping sample.But, posting on Instagram, Houlihan pointed the finger at a tainted pork burrito.
The 28-year-old athlete said: “In the following five days after being notified, I put together a food log of everything that I consumed the week of that December 15th test.
“We concluded that the most likely explanation was a burrito purchased and consumed approximately 10 hours before that drug test from an authentic Mexican food truck that serves pig offal near my house in Beaverton, Oregon.
“I notified the AIU (Athletics Integrity Unit) that I believed this was the source."
She said: “I feel completely devastated, lost, broken, angry, confused and betrayed by the very sport that I’ve loved and poured myself into.
“I want to be very clear. I have never taken any performance-enhancing substances.
“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 went on: “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 foremost toxicologists.
“Wada agreed that test proved that there was no build-up of this substance in my body, which there would have been if I were taking it regularly.”
Houlihan’s announcement came days before the start of U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon, where the top three in each event earn a spot to the postponed Tokyo Games. She finished 11th at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in the 5,000m.
Other bizarre explanations for failed tests
Ajax and Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana was given a 12 month ban from the game in February for failing a drugs test when a urine sample detected furosemide. The 25-year-old said he mistook his wife's medicine for an aspirin pill. The ban has since been reduced to nine months.
American sprinter LaShawn Merritt, a World Champion, was revealed in April 2010 to have failed three drugs tests. He said he had been using an over-the-counter penis enlargement product and had failed to read the ingredients properly. Merritt served a two-year ban.
World boxing champ Tyson Fury and his fighting cousin Hughie both received retrospective bans from the sport after testing positive for nandrolone in 2015. Tyson Fury blamed eating wild boar meat from uncastrated animals.
Five players with the North Korea women's football squad at the 2011 World Cup tested positive for banned substances. The excuse: they were struck by lightning before the tournament and as part of the recovery treatment were given deer musk glands, which triggered the failed test.