In shocking development in Shelby Houlihan doping suspension, CAS formally snickers at comedic burrito defense

The repetitive parts seemed written specifically for members of the U.S. media and its unwitting victims, but as usual, no one involved will own their mistakes

In January, U.S. distance runner Shelby Houlihan was levied a four-year suspension from track and field for committing a doping violation. Her legal team kept this information from being released to the public for months while it attempted to cobble together exonerating material for its appeal of the suspension, which, if successful, would have allowed Houlihan to compete at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials this summer.

As we* now know, the appeal was not successful. It was also clear from the outset to people who can think straight that the brazenly desperate appeal had zero chance of succeeding, that Houlihan’s team (and Nike generally) had to know this, and that Houlihan’s strategy therefore had to center on instantly painting a non-overturnable suspension as forever unjust and making sure the “fact” of this injustice would withstand whatever incriminating facts were later offered to the public. That strategy went as far as enlisting USA Track and Field to present the brief, eleventh-hour, entirely false impression that Houlihan would get to run at the Olympic Trials after all because she had not yet exhausted her appeal process. Did I mention what a joke this sport is?

As we also know today, the American media in general and the corporate running media in particular swallowed Houlihan’s claim of innocence, which assumed the form of her having accidentally eaten tainted meat in a burrito the night before a drug test, unquestioningly. As obviously insane as it was to swallow and regurgitate without skepticism the Bowerman Track Club propaganda session that disclosed Houlihan’s then-five-month-old suspension to the public for the first time, this is exactly what happened.

As plain as it was that all of these people were going to look even worse than they already did once the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) released the full report of its findings, they went ahead and did the Nike BTC’s bidding, and in the process revealed what colossal, credulous cowards and incompetent journalists they are, and also showed the BTC itself to consist of dirtbags from top to bottom.

This one was handed to journalists on a platter for them to question and pore over and dig into, and instead they just tossed it as is into their unbelievably bad coverage of the suspension. I will never stop shaking my head at how quickly the media has collapsed, allowing countless half-literate, incurious knob-polishers who would have been canned many times over by now just a few years ago to thrive en masse, however bad they realize it all looks despite the reward of adulation from the people they lie to on antisocial media.

I’m going to save most of my reactions to the media’s reactions to the CAS report that came out today until those reactions are all in. Here, I will offer my own reactions, with generous support from a Twitter thread highlighting the salient points of the report.

I can also save you some time: Most of the information in the report was already known or could be inferred with a supremely high level of confidence from, among other things, the simple fact of the long suspension (including the failed appeal), what the public knew about the levels of nandrolone metabolites in Houlihan’s urine sample, and the inability of Houlihan to even say where she supposedly got the burrito containing a virtually impossible amount of an extremely rare (in the U.S.) type of meat.

CAS specified eight reasons for rejecting Houlihan’s defense:

1. Houlihan was served a pork burrito despite ordering a beef burrito.

2. The “pork” would have to have been offal from a boar with undescended testes.

3. Pork and uncastrated boar meat enter the food chain in different ways.

4. This boar meat (i.e., undescended testes) must have contained androgen levels unlikely to be found in six-month-old specimens.

5. Houlihan allegedly ate stomach meat from her “pork,” but only the muscle of this type of meat is consumed. Even in uncastrated boars with elevated androgen levels, these levels are not seen in muscle meat, only in certain organs.

6. The concentration of nandrolone metabolites in Houlihan's sample was two to three times greater than the highest reported values in scientific literature after ingesting uncastrated boar meat—which, making things worse for Houlihan, has higher levels than meat from a six-month-old boar with undescended testes would.

7. The carbon isotope “signature” of the nandrolone metabolites in Houlihan’s sample is significantly different from that in the largely corn-based diet of commercial pigs in the U.S. Translation: Even if Houlihan did eat tainted meat, that’s not how nandrolone got into her system, which CAS determined by following a biochemical trail.

8. The odds of the wrong kind of boar meat ending up in the normal supply chain in the U.S. is far less than 1 in 10,000. Even ignoring reasons one through seven altogether, this fact alone makes the odds that Houlihan is telling the truth very, very small.

As far as how Houlihan’s steadfast cheerleading section in the American media is going to process this—the ones who don’t ignore their own very recent output outright, that is—expect more of this kind of cartoonish self-parody:

Women’s Running, in fact the most active opponent of the sport of women’s running among currently operating media outlets, can also safely be classified as a defender of convicted dopers. Whoever tweeted this clearly failed to understand that the quoted material basically says, “We’ll give Houlihan credit for being dumb enough to believe her own story, but she still doped.” But “whoever tweeted this” is easily narrowed to, oh, a single nitwit, one who has been a lying pile of confusion, resentment, and galactic incompetence for a long time now.

If Shelby Houlihan had any class, she’d offer to have her American records in the 1,500 meters and the 5,000 meters expunged. It would be an unprecedented move, and is about the only thing that could really help patch up her reputation at this point. Everyone who sees her as innocent would then have even more to whine about, which these idiots live for, while everyone who sees her as a doper would have to concede that she’s doing her part, however late, to help restore a bit of luster to a chemically tarnished sport. All it would cost her is a few dings to her big-ass ego…and gee, how do you folks think the calculus is going to proceed here?

Now it’s up to Francine Niyonsaba to rescue top-level women’s running. What a great time to be a track fan!