Urgent moves are under way to prevent the American 1500m star Shelby Houlihan running in the US Olympic trials this weekend after she was given permission to compete despite a four-year doping ban.
Multiple sources have told the Guardian that pressure is growing on USA Track and Field (Ustaf) to reverse its decision. Those sources expect sense to prevail and that Houlihan – who was banned by the court of arbitration for sport after testing positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone, which she blamed on eating meat from a burrito van – will be stopped from attending the trials.
On Thursday evening World Athletics said: “All member federations must respect CAS decisions under the world anti-doping code. We are talking to Ustaf.” It is understood conversations are also going on behind the scenes.
It has been made clear to Ustaf that if Houlihan competes on Friday she could face a further sanction under article 10 of the world anti-doping code. Ustaf has also been reminded that as a member of World Athletics it is bound by the code and the CAS ruling.
The news that 28-year-old Houlihan had been included in the start list for Friday’s heats of the women’s 1500m and 5,000m in Eugene, Oregon, caused uproar throughout the sport. Although not naming Houlihan directly, Ustaf said: “Given there is an active appeal process, Ustaf will allow any athletes to continue competing until the process is completed.”
Speaking to Fox News on Wednesday, Houlihan said she was “trying to exhaust every option” to overturn the ban. “I worked really hard and I’m in the best shape of my life right now, but I’m trying to trust the process and hope that I can get justice from this,” she said.
Earlier in the week Houlihan, who ran 3:54.99 in finishing fourth at the 1500m world championships in 2019, said she had “never even heard of” nandrolone, which can help to increase muscle mass.