Shelby Houlihan is listed on the “start list” at the U.S. track and field Olympic trials that begin on Friday despite receiving a recent four-year ban after failing a drug test. Whether she actually makes it to the starting line, however, appears to be in doubt.
Houlihan is the elite runner who earlier this week said she had been issued a four-year ban from the sport in a ruling by the international Court of Arbitration for Sport. She blamed a tainted burrito for a steroid detected in her testing sample. But on Thursday, she was listed as an entrant in the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter races Friday in Eugene, Ore. She is the American record holder at both distances.
USA Track and Field, the sport’s domestic governing body, issued a statement Thursday from Susan Hazzard, USATF Managing Director of Communications, that appeared to apply to Houlihan: “Given there is an active appeal process, USATF will allow any athletes to continue competing until the process is completed.”
But the prospect of Houlihan’s appearance in the trials brought immediate pushback from global track and anti-doping officials who made it clear that they believe Houlihan is ineligible because of the ban and should not compete.
By late Thursday, even U.S. Olympic officials seemed to indicate that Houlihan would be barred from the trials. “The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, together with USATF, can confirm that we will adhere to the WADA Code and any (Court of Arbitration for Sport) decisions that govern athlete participation in sanctioned events,” USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland said in a statement.