9th September 2021

Houlihan to appeal to Swiss Federal Tribunal

Shelby Houlihan, who was sanctioned with a four year ban for an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) involving 19-norandrosterone in June, is appealing the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) Decision to the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT). ‘I’m still continuing to fight to prove my innocence’, wrote Houlihan on Instagram (see below). ‘We are at our next step, which is to start the appeal process with the Swiss Federal Tribunal’.

In a 44-page Decision, the CAS outlined that it ‘finds it is possible but improbable that the meat of an uncastrated boar ended up in the burrito that the Athlete ate. Therefore, the Panel finds that the Respondent did not establish on the balance of probabilities that the burrito she partially consumed on 14 December 2020 contained boar offal.’  

If Houlihan, 28, had admitted her ADRV, she would have been eligible to receive a one year reduction in her four year ban. This would have enabled her to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics. However, she maintains that her adverse analytical finding (AAF – or ‘positive test’) was caused by a burrito contaminated with 19-norandrosterone. 

Houlihan argued that her AAF should have been reported as an atypical finding (ATF), due to an improper B sample confirmation process. The CAS dismissed Houlihan’s this line of argument, despite serious questions about whether it had correctly interpreted its own science.

The concentration of 19-norandreosterone in Houlihan’s samples were were 6.9ng/mL in her A sample and 7.8ng/mL in her B sample. World Athletics argued that these levels of 19-norandrosterone were ‘2-3 times higher than the highest values reported in the scientific literature after the ingestion of much more significant quantities of meat of mature (uncastrated) boar’.

A Study performed in 2000 found that three male volunteers who consumed 310g of boar found ‘19-NA and 19-NE concentrations in urine reached 3.1 to 7.5 microg/L nearby 10 hours after boar tissue consumption’. This tallies with Houlihan’s test ten hours after eating her burrito.

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