The 2016 Rio Olympic 1500m champ, and fellow Nike athlete,  Matthew Centrowitz, has thrown his support behind Shelby Houlihan, who is staring down the barrel of a four year ban for testing positive to nandrolone.

Centro, who used to date Houlihan, obviously knows her well:

…”I guess the best place to start with that is: absolutely, I support her. I believe her. And you know, I don’t think it’s a complete secret that her and I did have a relationship in the past, so I know her really well. I know the type of athlete, the type of individual she is. Her situation hits really close to home, probably more than anyone else on the team, because of our past relationship and me knowing about this case really well.”

“Truth be told, I could have been in the position she was in,” Centrowitz said. “The burrito truck that she ate was a place that I ate every single time with her. Her and I would always get the same carne asada burrito. And the one time that she didn’t, she was going over and watched The Bachelorette with the girls and I ate dinner with a teammate. And we both got tested the next morning, and that was the test that they found the contaminated meat.”

“With Shelby, I was there 24/7. I know what she was putting in her body. I know the vitamins that she was taking. I would have seen it, because I was there, literally, 24/7 with her.”

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What Does the Science Say about Houlihan’s Burrito Explanation

Runner’s Tribe is staying neutral, but let’s take a close look at the science behind Houlihan’s claim:

Our Sources

  • When a human eats pork from a non-castrated boar, it is possible to get elevated levels of nandrolone, above the doping standards.
    • However, nearly all pork meat in the U.S.A. consumed by humans, is from a castrated animal. It is very rare for a shop to serve the meat from a non-castrated boar (as it tastes purely disgusting).  Shelby is pretty much arguing that the food truck fed her offal from a non-castrated boar, incredibly rare, but not impossible.
  • In a study published in 2000, three males each ate 310 grams of boar (not castrated meat and had their urine sampled before, during and 24 hours after consumption. Urine samples taken 10 hours after boar tissue consumption showed levels of nandrolone above the doping standard. But remember, this is after eating the meat of a non-castrated boar, and a hell of a lot of it.
  • 2006 article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine examined what could lead to a positive test for nandrolone. The author described the ingestion of non-castrated pig meat as “improbable” because it’s so difficult to find.
  • The same study however found that – “Although highly improbable, athletes should prudently avoid meals composed of pig offal in the hours preceding the test since the consumption of edible parts of a non‐castrated pig, containing 19‐nortestosterone, has been shown to result in the excretion of 19‐norandrosterone in the following hours.”
  • In 2003, an expert committee on nandrolone reported to the UK Sports Council that athletes may want to avoid offal. “We are unable to assess fully the possible risk that consumption of meat may cause a notifiable urine concentration of 19-norandosterone, but we believe that the possibility is remote from eating good quality unprocessed muscle meat from commoner animal species,” the committee concluded. “It may be prudent to avoid offal from boar (not castrated) and horse.”


Our Sources