16 Questions That Need To Be Answered In The Shelby Houlihan Case

By Robert Johnson
June 22, 2021

Just over a week ago, the news came out that American 1500 and 5000-meter record holder Shelby Houlihan had been banned for four years after testing positive for the steroid nandrolone. I’m still trying to make sense of it. And I’m not the only one. I’ve reached out to a couple of knowledgeable sources that I trust and they echoed a common sentiment I’ve also read on the messageboard — neither side’s story makes much sense.

We are being asked to believe that Houlihan inadvertently ingested something that came from a pork burrito when she ordered a steak burrito, or that she doped taking nandrolone, which many experts say would be foolish.

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I don’t want this not to make sense. I want it to make sense.

So, inspired by a messageboard poster (MB: Red flags in the Houlihan case that need explaining), here are the questions I have of all parties involved.

To Jerry Schumacher (Houlihan’s coach) and the Bowerman Track Club:

  1. Do you really think Shelby Houlihan tested positive because she ate a contaminated pork burrito even though she ordered a steak burrito, or do you just have no idea how she tested positive? If that’s the case, why not just admit it? Why in the hell did you carefully craft statements making it seem as if she’d gone to an authentic Mexican food truck and ordered a pork burrito when in reality she ordered steak? Do you not realize that makes many naturally suspicious of you?
  2. When you started coaching at Nike you were the right-hand man to Alberto Salazar, who has since been banned from the sport. You sent athletes to Dr. Jeffrey Brown — who has since been banned from the sport. Can you please tell us what relationship you had/have with these men? I’ve been led to believe you were very skeptical of both men but the average fan has no idea of that as you have been so press-shy.
  3. Bowerman athlete Evan Jager, whom you have coached since 2007, appeared on a leaked Fancy Bears documents as “likely doping” in 2017. Jager issued a statement saying he couldn’t find any notification of a test from February 9, 2016, which was the date listed on the leaked document. Whatever happened to that? Can we get an update and will he release his complete Athlete Biological Passport? (Jager did appear on the LetsRun.com Track Talk Podcast in July 2017 to discuss this situation).
  4. This one isn’t from me but is from the likes of many others including sports scientist Ross Tucker: How had you never heard of nandrolone, the drug involved in Roger Clemens and Linford Christie cases?

To Shelby Houlihan:

  1. Even if you are banned, will you agree to be drug-tested by an independent body every day for a full year while you continue to train? If you do that and run under, say, 3:57 and 14:35, I’ll be much more likely to believe your story.
  2. Will you release your complete Athlete Biological Passport to the public immediately? How does one come up with a detailed food log of what they ate a month beforehand? Can we see your food receipts/location data for the food truck? We need to see the evidence of what you ate the night before the test. Whose idea was it to take the polygraph test and hair sample? Can we please see the results of those and be allowed to contact those in charge of administering it?

To Stephen Haas (Shelby Houlihan’s agent):

  1. When LetsRun.com’s Jonathan Gault called you a few weeks ago and told you we’d heard from multiple sources that Shelby had tested positive, why did you tell him that you hadn’t heard that and if she tested positive, you thought you would have heard something? Were you lying to Jonathan or did Shelby really keep you out of the loop? And if she kept you out of the loop, wouldn’t you ask your star client why she wasn’t racing at all in her Olympic buildup? If you lied, what does that do to your credibility? When I first was told she had tested positive, I didn’t think too much of it as I had little doubt that she was clean. But the misleading statements at the press conference and your denial to Jonathan Gault have GREATLY increased my suspicions.
  2. Shelby, if you did keep your agent out of the loop, why did you do that? Do you not realize many are going to assume it’s because you and the BTC/Nike, etc. wanted to get your stories straight?

To Paul Greene (Shelby’s lawyer):

  1. In the past, you’ve had other clients get a hair test and polygraph test. Do you always suggest that? Have you ever had an athlete refuse to get one of those tests done? Have you ever had an athlete fail one of those tests? How many athletes have taken such tests?
  2. You say you’ve had dozens of cases of contaminated meat over the years. Can you relay those to us? I assume you had the pork from the truck tested and it didn’t test positive for nandrolone. Can you confirm that?

To the AIU, WADA, USADA, and the anti-doping experts:

  1. It appears the head of your Montreal lab — Christiane Ayotte, who was in the charge of testing in this case — gave at a minimum misleading and arguably flat-out false testimony in the Jarrion Lawson case that was only uncovered after he subpoenaed her lab data. Was an investigation of what she testified ever initiated? Was she ever sanctioned or suspended? If not, why not? Do you not realize that if an athlete made a similar “mistake,” they would be SEVERELY punished? Do you not realize how serious it is if an expert critical to this case has lost her credibility? If she was a police officer, you would be required to issue a “disclosure notice” to the defense of people involved in cases with her past and future. Quite honestly, if she did provide false testimony and you didn’t do this, I think I’m willing to argue for the lifting of all sanctions on Shelby Houlihan without even looking at the evidence. In a criminal death penalty case — and this case is basically a death penalty case for Shelby Houlihan’s sporting life — a prosecutor would never rely on the key testimony of a witness with recent serious credibility issues. The fact that Ayotte is actually one of the world’s leading experts on nandrolone makes this even more troubling.
  2. How widespread is contaminated meat in the food supply? Have you done studies on this in the general population? If not, why not?
  3. Along the lines of #2, do you not realize it’s very troubling that the head of USADA, Travis Tygart, has called the current anti-doping system “an inherently unjust system” and states that we’ve had “dozens of cases where athletes are dealing with low-level positives caused by meat contamination or intimacy with a partner, multivitamin, mineral or supplement contamination.” Let me repeat: this is basically a sporting death penalty case. If one of the lead prosecutors thinks the system is “inherently unjust,” shouldn’t that system be paused/changed immediately? I’ve been told that if USADA was in charge of this case, Houlihan wouldn’t have been convicted or likely charged. Is that true? Do you realize that totally undermines the faith the public has in the system? Why would anyone trust it? The rest of the world likely is just going to think the Americans are letting off the American stars, whereas the man in charge in America thinks it’s unjustly punishing innocents.
  4. Everyone I’ve talked to and everything I’ve read supports the assertion that only an idiot would dope with injectable nandrolone as it’s by far the easiest substance to detect in a doping test (and yes, I’m aware that in this case that it’s alleged Shelby took oral nandrolone). Even Christiane Ayotte has stated this. If that’s true, how do you explain the fact that 50 Kenyans have tested positive for it from 2004 to 2018? Are they just unsophisticated/sloppy dopers? Did they eat contaminated meat? What was the level of nandrolone in their samples and how did it compare to Shelby Houlihan’s level?
  5. How many grams of tainted pork would someone of Shelby’s size needed to eat to test positive at the level she tested positive?
  6. When will we learn why you rejected Houlihan’s appeal?

Talk about this article on our messageboard: MB: 16 Questions That Need To Be Answered In The Shelby Houlihan Case.

More: MB: Red flags in the Houlihan case that need explaining
MB: The Railroading of Shelby Houlihan 
*MB: Big development: Woman who falsely testified in Jarrion Lawson case is one who popped Houlihan. Houlihan ordered a carne asada burrito
*JG Column: Shelby Houlihan’s Suspension Is A Track & Field Tragedy

Related: LRC The amazing story of how Jarrion Lawson cleared himself: He showed the head of a WADA lab provided false testimony against him 

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