IOWA — Iowa native and former Olympic runner Shelby Houlihan says her appeals have failed and a four-year ban from racing will be upheld. Houlihan, a Sioux City-native and long distance specialist, ran in the 2016 Olympics – finishing 11th in her one event.
Days before the 2020 Olympic Trials she was informed that a drug test found traces of a performance enhancing substance in her system. Houlihan immediately appealed the ban, blaming the failed test on tainted pork in a burrito she’d eaten. Houlihan has maintained her innocence throughout the appeals process, including her announcement of the ban being upheld in an Instagram post.
Houlihan says she received final word last week but couldn’t find the words to express her feelings until now. She’ll be eligible to return to racing in January 2025. Here is Houlihan’s full Instagram post:
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to say here and in the end, I’m not sure there are any good words for it.
Last week, I was informed that I lost my appeals and my ban will be upheld. No reason has been given yet for why they were dismissed. I was told from the start that it was a long shot; it’s extremely hard to overturn these cases and I shouldn’t get my hopes up. I had to try anyway. I had to fight for myself, my career, and my reputation because I am innocent. The truth hasn’t won here and that’s devastating.
Up until this point, I had been advised to lay low and not say or do anything in order to not jeopardize my appeal process. I think this was best because I also wasn’t ready to talk about it. I needed time for myself to process everything that’s happened and to start working on how to move forward. I appreciate people being understanding and giving me the space for that.
I do believe that there are flaws in the anti-doping system who’s unfair practices result in unjust outcomes. I believe it’s broken. I also believe that there are other innocent athletes who have, and will continue to be, affected by this system. This is a problem and it needs to be addressed. I hope as I continue to move forward that I can use my experience to help change it.
Shebly Houlihan (via Instagram)