Here are two well written editorials that help explain some of the science surrounding the case. Below are some key points from each of them.
Key Points of 'Burrito-Gate' Editorial
“One of the tests that the laboratory used has a 40% false positive rate! It was little better than flipping a coin.”
“Drug testing laboratories and organizations have known for well over a decade that eating certain pork products (available in the U.S., but much more common outside the U.S.) could trigger a positive test for nandrolone. The fact that eating certain pork products could produce a positive nandrolone test is written into drug testing organization guidance documents.”
“This case does not revolve around whether Shelby Houlihan can prove she ate pork products with nandrolone, but instead revolves around whether the laboratory used the correct testing procedures and the correct drug testing organization guidance documents.”
“There is no set limit on the amount of nandrolone metabolites measured in the urine. Instead, part of the drug testing organization’s guidance document includes a flowchart showing varying levels of nandrolone metabolites can either cause a drug test fail or a drug test pass depending upon the results of additional laboratory tests.”
“It would be medically reckless for Shelby Houlihan to take nadrolone regularly.”
“The people running anti-doping organizations may think they are eliminating sports doping to a large extent and there is no doubt they are having some effect. But with the large number of bans of athletes (both guilty and possibly many who are innocent), they are creating a belief amongst many fans that everyone is a doper and cheater or that anti-doping organizations are out of control and need reform. They are also creating fear amongst the athletes who cannot possibly control every single thing that ends up in their bodies. It is my hope that anti-doping organizations reform in a way that creates a more cooperative relationship with athletes, but can be aggressive when needed.”
You can read the full article here.
Key Points of 'The CAS Report'
“Since WADA performs ~278,000 tests per year, it is a mathematical certainty their net will capture such freak accidents on a regular basis. The “1 in 10,000″ standard, for example, would result in 28 freak-accident positive results per year.”
“In addition, CAS’s quasi-legal standard that requires Houlihan’s team to she ingested tainted pork meant they had to choose one explanation even while others existed. The focus on pork stomach as the source of nandrolone allowed World Athletics to ignore previous research and analysis related to the ingestion of other pig offal, such as heart, liver, and kidney, which tend to contain much higher amounts of the steroid even though they could well have been ingested as ingredients in chorizo, for example”
“McGlone’s cryptorchid deduction was based on the assumption there existed a “normal pork supply chain” when it was well known that, at least for a period of several months, the pork supply chain was anything but normal. In reality, the supply chain experienced a major disruption in the spring and summer of 2020 that created a massive backlog of pigs waiting to be slaughtered.”
“Ayotte seemed to contradict statements from her own studies, when she describes the concentration of 19-NA in the Athlete’s urine as being ‘2-3 times higher than the highest values reported in the scientific literature’. Yet it has been repeatedly shown that in the hours following ingestion of boar meat and offal, 19-NA values in urine samples “could be in vast excess of the threshold” (Excretion of norsteroids’ phase II metabolites of different origin in human, Conclusion) and “with levels even reaching 160 ng/ml in one case” (Significance of 19-norandrosterone in athletes’ urine, page i27).”
“since Houlihan is accused of taking a synthetic form of nandrolone, it is odd to omit the range of 19-NA values found in the literature for individuals who were known to have taken such drugs orally. The range of those values is very wide, indeed, and the highest concentrations astronomical (e.g., in Guay, 19-NA values as high as 433, 3540, and even 36500 ng/ml were observed) as compared to Houlihan’s 5.2 and 5.8 ng/ml readings.”
You can read the full article here.