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Shelby Houlihan loses appeal on doping ban, vows return

2019 USATF Outdoor Championships

DES MOINES, IOWA - JULY 25: 2019 Shelby Houlihan competes in the opening round of the 1500 meter during the USATF Outdoor Championships at Drake Stadium on July 25, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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U.S. Olympic distance runner Shelby Houlihan said she lost appeals and that her four-year doping ban will remain upheld.

“I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to say here and in the end, I’m not sure there are any good words for it,” was posted on Houlihan’s social media. “No reason has been given yet for why they were dismissed. I was told from the start that it was a long shot; it’s extremely hard to overturn these cases and I shouldn’t get my hopes up. I had to try anyway. I had to fight for myself, my career, and my reputation because I am innocent.”

Houlihan, 29 and the American record holder at 1500m and 5000m, tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone from a Dec. 15, 2020 urine test. Houlihan appealed a provisional suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which dismissed her appeal and banned her for four years days before last June’s Olympic Trials.

Houlihan said last year that she would appeal the ban to a Switzerland federal court that can have jurisdiction over the Swiss-based CAS.

Houlihan, 11th in the 2016 Olympic 5000m, believed the source of the banned substance was a food truck burrito that she ate the night before the 6 a.m. test.

Houlihan’s ban includes two Olympics -- Tokyo last year and Paris in 2024. She is eligible to return to competition in January 2025, a month before turning 32.

“I’m not sure what things will look like yet moving forward,” Houlihan said after losing her latest appeal, according to “I do plan on being back in 2025 and resuming my career. I plan on continuing to run between now and then but unsure yet on the intensity of it and what that looks like.”

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