Five months after receiving a four-year ban from competition, American 1,500m and 5,00m record-holder Shelby Houlihan has started a GoFundMe page and website asking for support to help pay for the legal fees she’s incurred while fighting her case. She has set a goal for $300,000, and is asking her supporters to spread the word about what she calls “the injustice of the situation.”
A brief recap
In December 2020 Houlihan tested positive for the steroid nandrolone and in June 2021, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) handed her a four-year ban from the sport. After the ban was announced, she made a public statement on her Instagram page stating her innocence and claimed the positive result was due to contaminated meat she ate in a burrito from a food truck on the day of the test.
Houlihan appealed the ban and attempted to prove her innocence, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the ruling against her. The entire 44-page CAS decision was made was released in early September, which included the following statement:
“The Athlete’s explanation that the 19-NA in her sample resulted from her consumption of the meat of an uncastrated boar simply cannot be accepted. The explanation presupposes a cascade of factual and scientific improbabilities, which means that its composite probability is (very) close to zero.”
As a final effort to fight her ban, Houlihan has since announced that she plans to appeal her case to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.
Asking for support
Her bid for help has drawn mixed reviews from running fans. Those who believe in her innocence have been eager to support her cause, but detractors are arguing she should accept her ban and move on. Many more have wondered why someone who is supposedly still backed by Nike requires financial assistance, and have speculated that the brand may be backing away from the situation, but the chatter is largely hearsay, since neither Houlihan nor Nike have made any public statement regarding their relationship. Houlihan’s case will not be brought before the Swiss Tribunal until 2022.