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Articles tagged #Mary Cain
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Mary Cain sues Alberto Salazar and Nike for $20 million over alleged abuse

Mary Cain, the promising distance runner whose career fizzled after what she has described as four miserable years at the Nike Oregon Project, has filed a $20 million lawsuit against her former coach, Alberto Salazar, and their employer, Nike.

Cain accused Salazar of emotionally abusing her when she joined the team as a 16-year-old. The lawsuit portrays Salazar as an angry control freak who was obsessed with Cain’s weight and didn’t hesitate to publicly humiliate her about it.

That, she said, took a toll on her physical and mental health. Nike was aware, the lawsuit alleges, but failed to intervene.

Nike did not return messages. Salazar could not be reached but has previously denied abuse allegations, and he has said neither Cain nor her parents had raised concerns while she was part of the program.

In the lawsuit filed Monday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Cain alleges Salazar on several occasions required her to get on a scale in front of other people and would then criticize her.

“Salazar told her that she was too fat and that her breasts and bottom were too big,” the lawsuit alleges.

Salazar took to policing Cain’s food intake, she said. At times, Cain was so hungry, she said, she stole Clif Bars from teammates.

Cain went to her parents for support. She alleges Salazar eventually tired of the parental interference.

“He prevented Cain from consulting with and relying on her parents, particularly her father, who is a doctor,” said Kristen West McCall, a Portland lawyer representing Cain.

By 2019, Cain says she was deeply depressed, had an eating disorder, generalized anxiety and post-traumatic stress syndrome. She also was cutting herself.

Darren Treasure, Nike’s in-house sports psychology consultant, knew of Cain’s distress, the lawsuit alleges. But he’s accused in the complaint of doing nothing about it, other than to share this “sometimes intimate and confidential information … with Salazar.”

Nike did nothing to intervene, Cain alleges.

“Companies are responsible for the behavior of their managers,” McCall said. “Nike’s job was to ensure that Salazar was not neglecting and abusing the athletes he coached.”

McCall added: “Nike was letting Alberto weight-shame women, objectify their bodies, and ignore their health and wellbeing as part of its culture. This was a systemic and pervasive issue.  And they did it for their own gratification and profit.”

Nike athletes generally sign non-disclosure statements that strictly prohibit them from revealing any sensitive corporate secrets. Cain smashed the Nike code of silence two years ago when The New York Times published her wrenching account of her years at Nike.

Due in part to a protracted series of injuries, Cain never lived up to her superstar-in-the-making expectations. But when she was 16, after a brilliant high school running career, she was a hot commodity in distance running circles.

In 2012, she opted to skip college and go straight to Beaverton to run for Salazar. Salazar, himself a legendary runner, helped found the Nike Oregon Project to make American distance runners competitive with the rest of the world.

Salazar has had some big successes, particularly with Galen Rupp, the Portland kid who has become one of the world’s best marathoners. On Aug. 5, 2012, two Salazar athletes — Mo Farah and Rupp — finished one-two in the 10,000 at the Olympic Games in London.

His program also has  been dogged by allegations that he pushed the use of  performance-enhancing drugs.

The Nike Oregon Project was disbanded in 2019 after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency accused Salazar of three violations. The agency banned him from the sport for four years.

Salazar appealed to the Court for Arbitration for Sport. Last month, the court upheld Salazar’s ban from the sport and some of USADA’s findings. It ruled that Salazar attempted an “intentional and orchestrated scheme to mislead” anti-doping investigators when he tampered with evidence.

The court reduced the duration of his ban from four to two years.

Salazar added:  “Mary at times struggled to find and maintain her ideal performance and training weight.” Nike added that Cain had requested to be allowed back on the team after she left.

Salazar said this to Sports Illustrated:

My foremost goal as a coach was to promote athletic performance in a manner that supported the good health and well-being of all my athletes. On occasion, I may have made comments that were callous or insensitive over the course of years of helping my athletes through hard training. If any athlete was hurt by any comments that I have made, such an effect was entirely unintended, and I am sorry. I do dispute, however, the notion that any athlete suffered any abuse or gender discrimination while running for the Oregon Project.”

(10/12/2021) Views: 93 ⚡AMP
by Jeff Manning
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Nike wasn't 'giving me really what I needed,' U.S. Olympian says about jumping to LuluLemon

When her contract with Nike (NKE) was up for renegotiation, American Olympian Colleen Quigley chose to leave the athletic apparel giant for a different type of deal with Lululemon (LULU).

"I've been with Nike since 2015 when I graduated from Florida State University... and joined the team out here in Portland, then had a great five-year run with them,” Quigley said on Yahoo Finance Live. “But I think when I got to the end of that, I just decided that they weren't giving me really what I needed off of the track and not really seeing me as anything more than just a runner.”

Quigley — a 2016 U.S. Olympic 3000m steeplechaser who withdrew from 2021 Olympic trials — joins a growing number of athletes who were dissatisfied with Nike endorsement deals. Other top runners that parted ways with footwear giant include Mary Cain and Allyson Felix, who respectively spoke out about the company's allegedly toxic culture and lack of maternity protections.

“I started to see myself as more than a runner, and I like to do a lot of different things," Quigley said. "I have different initiatives that I'm working on, really focusing on young athletes and young female athletes."

Lululemon "values me as that whole person," she added, "which is really what drew me to them."

Colleen Quigley places second in women's steeplechase heat in 9:53.48 to advance during the USATF Championships Jul 26, 2019; Des Moines, IA (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

"You don't have to be on top of the podium to really send a strong message”

Professional athletes in sports such as track and field seek sponsorship deals for compensation since there are few leagues — particularly for women — that pay viable salaries. For college stars like Quigley, signing with a major brand represents the dream of taking one's running career to the next level.

When describing her contract with Nike, Quigley stressed that it was a “transactional relationship.”

“So you run this time, you qualify for this team, you place top three, and you get paid this amount, and if you don't perform and you don't make the team and you don't get a medal, then you don't get paid,” she said. “All of the traditional brands really just see you as a results machine and what you can perform, and what you can give them on the track is really the only thing that they value.” Nike estimated that it will spend $1.33 billion in endorsement contracts in fiscal year 2021, according to company filings. That figure varies based on how well athletes perform and doesn't include the cost of athletic gear provided to endorsers.

Despite the massive marketing machine, top women athletes are increasingly looking for sponsorships that go beyond rewarding athletic accomplishments.

In 2019, Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix departed from Nike after she said she felt pressure from the company to return quickly after her pregnancy and accept a significant pay cut.

“If we have children, we risk pay cuts from our sponsors during pregnancy and afterward," she wrote in an op-ed at the time. "It’s one example of a sports industry where the rules are still mostly made for and by men." (Nike updated its maternity policy to guarantee pay for pregnant athletes after Felix, as well as runners Alysia Montaño and Kara Goucher, went public with their pregnancy stories.)

(08/18/2021) Views: 98 ⚡AMP
by Grace O’Donnell
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Alberto Salazar gets lifetime ban for sexual, emotional misconduct

Alberto Salazar, the 1982 Boston Marathon champion from Wayland and once a prominent Nike coach of some of the world’s top distance runners, was permanently barred from participating in track and field Monday by the US Center for SafeSport, which cited Salazar for sexual and emotional misconduct.

Salazar, 62, has 10 business days to request an appeal through arbitration of the ruling made by SafeSport, a nonprofit founded in 2017 to protect athletes from sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

The decision Monday was the latest stage of a humiliating fall for Salazar, who was suspended for four years in September 2019 by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for violating rules governing banned substances. He is appealing that suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the Swiss-based equivalent of a Supreme Court for international sports.

The SafeSport charges were not detailed Monday. In January 2020, the organization temporarily barred Salazar from participating in track and field after elite female runners who formerly trained under him, including Mary Cain, Amy Yoder Begley and Kara Goucher, described what they said were years of psychological and verbal abuse by the coach.

Neither Salazar nor his lawyer immediately responded to requests for comment Monday. Salazar has previously denied all accusations of misconduct.

In a 2019 video produced by the Opinion department of The New York Times, Cain, a former high school phenom from New York who is now 25, accused Salazar of shaming her in front of others on the Nike Oregon Project team — which has since been disbanded — when she did not reach weight targets. She said that her low weight caused her to miss her period for three years, leading to lower levels of estrogen and five broken bones.

Cain also said that she had suicidal thoughts and had cut herself, but that no one at Nike “really did anything or said anything.”

Yoder Begley, a 2008 Olympian, tweeted in 2019 that she was removed from the Oregon Project after a disappointing showing in the 10,000 meters at the 2011 United States track and field championships.

“I was told I was too fat and ‘had the biggest butt on the starting line,’ " Yoder Begley wrote.

Goucher, another American Olympian who once trained with the Nike Oregon Project, told The Times that after being cooked meager meals by an assistant coach, she often ate more in the privacy of her room, nervous that she would be heard opening the wrappers of energy bars she furtively consumed.

Salazar replied to Cain’s 2019 video in a statement to The Oregonian newspaper: “Neither of her parents nor Mary raised any of the issues that she now suggests occurred while I was coaching her. To be clear, I never encouraged her, or worse yet, shamed her, to maintain an unhealthy weight.”

Cain acknowledged at the time that she had sought to train again with Salazar, seeking an apology, closure and his approval. But she described their relationship as poisonous, saying, “I was the victim of an abusive system, an abusive man.”

Salazar told Sports Illustrated in 2019 that his “foremost goal” was to promote athletic performance in line with the good health and well-being of his athletes, but he acknowledged, “On occasion, I may have made comments that were callous or insensitive.”

(07/27/2021) Views: 132 ⚡AMP
by Jere Longman
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Mary Cain launches professional women's running team

Mary Cain has announced the launch of her new professional women’s running team, Atalanta New York. Cain previously ran for Alberto Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project (NOP), and in 2019, four years after leaving the team, she opened up about the emotional and physical abuse she endured in her short time training with that group. That abuse pushed Cain to the point of considering suicide, and it was fuelled by Salazar’s win-at-all-costs mentality. Cain is now looking to fight this mindset (which was not unique to the NOP), and Atalanta NY will work to empower and support its athletes and young female runners everywhere.

Cain is the president and CEO of Atalanta NY, an endeavour she says is the next step in her fight against the toxicity plaguing the world of athletics. “Ever since I shared my story to The NY Times, I have wanted to do more,” she wrote on Instagram. The first step in this fight, she said, was speaking out against Salazar, the NOP and the must-win culture (which has led to the abuse of so many female athletes) in track. “Maybe it’s the runner in me, but I wanted to take more than a first step.”‘

Atalanta NY is a New York City-based nonprofit that will employ its athletes, not as competitors, but as mentors to young women in the running community. This takes the emphasis off of performance (which is the usual focus for professional running teams) and instead places it on community involvement, something that Cain said she believes will “shake up the current model of professional sports.”

This is similar (although not identical) to the structure of Tracksmith’s partnership with Cain. In 2020, Cain signed with Tracksmith to work as a full-time employee while also running for the brand. This allowed Cain to run worry-free, as her contract was not dependent on her results, but rather on her work as the brand’s New York City community manager. Cain is still representing Tracksmith, and the company is a founding sponsor of Atalanta NY.

“Atalanta New York’s mission is two-fold,” reads a post on the Tracksmith Instagram page. “As a team, its goal is to help elite runners chase their athletic dreams through a sustainable and healthy organizational model. As a nonprofit, the goal is to educate and inspire young female athletes in underserved New York communities to find joy and wellness through sport.”

So far, Atalanta NY has only named two professional athletes to the team: Cain and Jamie Morrissey. Cain hasn’t raced much in the past few years (she raced four times in 2020, interrupting a four-year break from competition), but she still owns several big records, including the world U20 indoor 1,000m record (2:35.80) and American U20 two-mile best (9:38.68). Morrissey is a former University of Michigan standout who owns a PB of 4:11.48 in the 1,500m.

No other runners have been publicly added to the team yet, but Cain has said there will be more athlete announcements soon. To learn more about Atalanta NY and the team’s mission,

(07/03/2021) Views: 159 ⚡AMP
by Running Magazine
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Record-crushing track superstar Mary Cain launches professional women’s running team

Mary Cain has announced the launch of her new professional women’s running team, Atalanta New York. Cain previously ran for Alberto Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project (NOP), and in 2019, four years after leaving the team, she opened up about the emotional and physical abuse she endured in her short time training with that group. That abuse pushed Cain to the point of considering suicide, and it was fuelled by Salazar’s win-at-all-costs mentality. 

Cain is now looking to fight this mindset (which was not unique to the NOP), and Atalanta NY will work to empower and support its athletes and young female runners everywhere.

Cain is the president and CEO of Atalanta NY, an endeavour she says is the next step in her fight against the toxicity plaguing the world of athletics. “Ever since I shared my story to The NY Times, I have wanted to do more,” she wrote on Instagram. The first step in this fight, she said, was speaking out against Salazar, the NOP and the must-win culture (which has led to the abuse of so many female athletes) in track. “Maybe it’s the runner in me, but I wanted to take more than a first step.”‘

Atalanta NY is a New York City-based nonprofit that will employ its athletes, not as competitors, but as mentors to young women in the running community. This takes the emphasis off of performance (which is the usual focus for professional running teams) and instead places it on community involvement, something that Cain said she believes will “shake up the current model of professional sports.”

This is similar (although not identical) to the structure of Tracksmith’s partnership with Cain. In 2020, Cain signed with Tracksmith to work as a full-time employee while also running for the brand. This allowed Cain to run worry-free, as her contract was not dependent on her results, but rather on her work as the brand’s New York City community manager. Cain is still representing Tracksmith, and the company is a founding sponsor of Atalanta NY.

“Atalanta New York’s mission is two-fold,” reads a post on the Tracksmith Instagram page. “As a team, its goal is to help elite runners chase their athletic dreams through a sustainable and healthy organizational model. As a nonprofit, the goal is to educate and inspire young female athletes in underserved New York communities to find joy and wellness through sport.”

So far, Atalanta NY has only named two professional athletes to the team: Cain and Jamie Morrissey. Cain hasn’t raced much in the past few years (she raced four times in 2020, interrupting a four-year break from competition), but she still owns several big records, including the world U20 indoor 1,000m record (2:35.80) and American U20 two-mile best (9:38.68). Morrissey is a former University of Michigan standout who owns a PB of 4:11.48 in the 1,500m.

No other runners have been publicly added to the team yet, but Cain has said there will be more athlete announcements soon.

(06/30/2021) Views: 205 ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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Shelby Houlihan will not compete at Trials after all

The U.S. Olympic track and field trials are set to start today, and American 1,500m and 5,000m record holder Shelby Houlihan will not be on the start line, after all. Mere hours after the USATF announced she would be permitted to compete, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee reversed the decision in an effort to remain in line with the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) ruling to uphold her four-year ban.

Earlier this week, the track and field world learned that Houlihan had received a four-year ban after she tested positive for the steroid nandrolone. She protested vehemently that she had ever taken performance-enhancing drugs, blaming the positive test on contaminated meat in a burrito she had eaten 10 hours before being tested. 

The reversal came after pushback from the international anti-doping community as well as several prominent elite runners, who believed a banned runner should not be permitted to compete at trials. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), which runs the anti-doping program for World Athletics, released a statement Thursday saying that the USATF must respect and implement the decisions of the CAS. The Clean Sport Collective also published a petition against letting her compete, signed by a number of athletes, including Des Linden, Steph Bruce, Mary Cain, Emma Coburn, Mason Ferlic, Molly Seidel, Emily Sisson and retired Canadian pro runner Nicole Sifuentes. 

Under normal circumstances, athletes who test positive for a banned substance first have a hearing before the AIU, but with the Olympic trials so close, Houlihan took her appeal straight to the CAS in Switzerland. The CAS upheld her ban, which leaves her with only one option: to appeal the CAS decision before a Swiss Federal tribunal. According to sources, however, this avenue is only for matters of procedure, while the decision itself is binding. Not only will Houlihan miss this year’s Olympics, but she will miss the 2024 Games also.

(06/19/2021) Views: 142 ⚡AMP
by Running Magazine
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Some Veteran Pro Runners Are Making Less This Year, and They're Ditching the Sport

Many athletes are confronting a bleak financial reality. Some are quitting the sport entirely.

What do Noah Droddy, Ben True, and Andy Bayer have in common?

They’re all ranked among the top 10 Americans of all time in their events—Droddy in the marathon, True in the 10,000 meters, Bayer in the steeplechase.

How Much Do Pro Runners Make? For Some Veterans, It’s Less This Year

And they were all dropped by their sponsors at the end of 2020.

This news took a while to seep out—after all, athletes don’t tend to publicize it when their sponsors reduce their pay or stop supporting them altogether. But Droddy, 30, and True, 35, have been open about their status and confirmed it in calls with Runner’s World (both had been sponsored by Saucony), and Bayer told the Indy Star that Nike dropped him and he has left the sport, at age 31, for a job in software engineering.

Droddy—one of running’s most recognizable figures in races with his long hair, backward baseball cap, and habit of losing his lunch at marathon finish lines—summed up his situation in a tweet on February 19.

Is he right? Is it typical for top runners, at the height of their careers, to lose financial backing from shoe companies? Or is this an anomaly at the end of an unusual, pandemic-marred 15 months?

Runner’s World had conversations with eight athletes, four agents, two marketing employees at brands, and three coaches to get a sense of the current economics for athletes. They painted a complex picture.

Are most pro runners broke?

Many are just getting by. For years, America’s pro runners have been on shaky financial footing. With the exception of those who win global medals or major marathons, distance runners often struggle to earn enough money to pay for their essentials (rent and food), plus cover all their running-related expenses, such as coaching, travel to races and altitude camps, health care, gym membership, and massage.

Over the past year, the pandemic has erased lucrative racing opportunities. Additionally, shoe companies have been reevaluating their sports marketing budgets, from which runners are paid. Experts say that the result has been an increasing bifurcation between the sport’s haves and have nots.

The most successful, those destined for the Olympic team or starring on the roads, are earning generous base payments and bonuses for setting records or winning. Many of the rest are scraping by, with smaller contracts, if any, and they’re supplementing their shoe company earnings with jobs.

Running’s middle class, much like America’s, is shrinking.

The exception is runners who belong to a single-sponsor training group, like those in Flagstaff, Arizona (Hoka); Boston (New Balance); and Portland, Oregon (Nike). In those cases, coaching, travel, and training camp costs are absorbed by the club, easing the financial pressure on athletes and making it possible for them to pursue the dream.

Brands these days appear to be more eager to devote dollars to groups and the athletes who train with them, rather than individual athletes training on their own in different locations. That presents a quandary for midcareer runners who have achieved a level of success. Faced with the loss of a sponsorship, they aren’t always willing to pick up and move to a new town and a new coach.

What do contracts look like?

If you’re a top runner in the college ranks, and you’ve won multiple NCAA titles at the Division I level, shoe companies—Nike, Adidas, Brooks, Saucony, Hoka, and others—will usually come calling, offering more than $100,000 a year for multiple years, with a spot in a group or a stipend to pay your coach. Those companies are betting on those NCAA champions to be Olympians of the future.

Dani Jones, for instance, won three individual NCAA titles at the University of Colorado, and she signed with New Balance at the end of last year. Her agent, Hawi Keflezighi, said she entertained competing offers from other companies.

A midcareer athlete with a breakthrough performance—hitting the podium at a major marathon or making an Olympic team, for instance—might also be rewarded with a base contract worth $50,000 to $100,000.

The top sprinters earn even more (although their careers are typically shorter). Usain Bolt famously made millions, and Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse was 21 when he signed a deal worth $11.25 million—before bonuses—from Puma in 2015, the Toronto Star reported.

The payouts drop significantly after that. Let’s say you’re a distance runner, but you haven’t been able to get a big win in college, although you’ve come close. The lucky ones are looking at deals for about $30,000 to $75,000 per year.

Your agent takes a 15 percent cut of that. And this base salary most often comes without benefits: no health insurance, no 401(k). As independent contractors, pro runners are paying all their own taxes. (In contrast, traditional full-time employees have half of their Social Security and Medicare taxes paid by the employer.)

Many young runners out of college join pro groups, and they’re not making anything beyond free gear and coaching. Others might get a stipend worth $10,000 or $12,000 a year.

The contracts typically sync with the Olympic calendar. At the end of 2020, many athletes’ contracts were expiring—even though the Olympics didn’t happen. That’s how Droddy, True, and Bayer were dropped. Shannon Rowbury, a three-time Olympian, told Track & Field News her deal with Nike was extended for one year, two if she makes the Olympic team this summer.

If an athlete has a good Olympics, the sponsoring company often has an option to extend the deal for an additional year, which includes the world track & field championships. It’s at the company’s discretion—not the athlete’s.

Parts of the sponsorship model appear to be changing, but slowly. When NAZ Elite announced a new deal with Hoka last fall, it included health insurance for the runners. Similarly, members of Hansons-Brooks in Rochester, Michigan, get health insurance if they work in the Hansons running specialty stores. And last May, Tracksmith brought Mary Cain and Nick Willis on as employees at the company—Cain in community engagement, Willis as athlete experience manager—with the plan that both would continue to train and race at an elite level.

Why doesn’t anyone know exactly how much runners are making?

As part of these deals, athletes have to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), promising to keep the terms quiet. If an athlete violates the NDA, the sponsor can void the contract—or sue for breach of contract.

This is, in fact, similar to other sports. In basketball, LeBron James is being paid $39.2 million this season by the Los Angeles Lakers. But he also has an endorsement deal with Nike, and the exact structure of that is unknown.

In running, prize purses are publicized—$150,000 for winning the Boston Marathon, $25,000 for being the top American at New York in 2019, $75,000 for winning the Olympic Marathon Trials.

But as in other sports, the terms of the sponsor deals are kept mum. And appearance fees at major races, as well as time bonuses within those appearance fees, which represent a major source of income for road runners (mainly marathoners), are also mostly unknown.

Athletes feel that the silence around sponsor contracts and appearance fees puts them at a disadvantage—it’s hard to know their market value. Yes, they can—and do—have quiet conversations with peers about it. But lacking broad knowledge, they lack power.

And as a result, the industry is rife with rumors and assumptions. Athletes’ values are often inflated through the grapevine.

“I think it is very similar to the dynamic that would occur if no one knew the price of home sales,” Ian Dobson—a 2008 Olympian who ran for Adidas and Nike during his pro career, which ended in 2012—told Runner’s World. “How could you ever be confident in a sale price if you didn’t know what any other homes in your neighborhood were selling for? Granted, we don’t know every detail of every home sale in the neighborhood, but it’s certainly helpful to know in general terms the dollar amount that these are going for so that we can all understand what value our home might have.”

Also, athletes keep quiet when their circumstances change. They feel embarrassed. One athlete told Runner’s World, “No one in track wants to be the one to say, ‘I got dropped,’ or ‘I got reduced.’ It's all taboo.”

Even so, $30,000 is nothing to sneeze at—especially for a job that’s about pursuing individual goals.

No, it’s not. But not every contract is structured the same way.

Some pay that base amount, no matter what. Other contracts penalize athletes with reductions if, for instance, they don’t finish in the top three in the country in Track & Field News rankings, or if they get injured and can’t race a certain number of times per year.

That’s why numerous Nike athletes seemed to be eagerly seeking racing opportunities of any kind last summer amid the pandemic. Marathoner Amy Cragg raced a 400 meters at an intrasquad meet on July 31, and finished in 90.15 seconds—6:00 pace—presumably to check a box on her contract. On August 7, she ran 800 meters in 3:03.85. The record of those races are in her World Athletics profile.

A Nike spokeswoman, when asked about athletes racing in 2020 to meet contractual obligations, responded: “We do not comment on athlete contracts.”

Time bonuses, once seen as a reliable way to beef up athletes’ base payments, are also becoming less frequent or harder to hit, as shoe technology improves and fast times become more common, according to one agent.

What role do agents play?

For athletes who have never previously had a sponsorship deal, it’s almost impossible to secure one without the help of an agent, who can get in the door at all the major brands.

For American distance runners, there are nine main agents—all men—negotiating the deals (Keflezighi, Josh Cox, Paul Doyle, Ray Flynn, Chris Layne, Dan Lilot, Tom Ratcliffe, Ricky Simms, and Mark Wetmore). Karen Locke, one of the few female agents in track and field, represents a few distance runners among her roster of clients in field events.

Of course, all the prominent agents—who have multiple clients across multiple brands and at various stages of their athletic careers—have data about what athletes are worth. But they have a duty to each one to maintain confidentiality about the specifics of that deal.

Agents bring to their athletes a broad picture of the market and what each might command, providing advice to those considering offers: Yes, this a fair offer, a solid deal. Or no, you can do better.

They also help get athletes into competitive track races like the Diamond League and elsewhere, or into the World Marathon Majors. They can handle travel arrangements to meets and help to make sure records get ratified. Generally, their role is to go to bat for athletes, no matter what they need.

For their services, they take 15 percent of everything an athlete earns: sponsor deals, appearance fees, and prize money, no matter how small the race or winnings.

Agents are supposed to negotiate on behalf of each client individually, but athletes have no idea if that’s happening. Are they being used as part of a package deal? Thrown in at a minimal rate as a thank you to a brand for giving a generous deal to a superstar? Or, on the upside, getting a small appearance fee from a major marathon that they wouldn’t be able to get into on their own, because they have the same agent as a mega-star?

“Agents want to bring in the most money for their combined athletes—if they manage 20 athletes, they’re trying to bring in the maximum money they can across 20 athletes,” one athlete told Runner’s World. “That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re trying to maximize for each individual. The difference between earning $20,000 a year and $30,000 a year is profound in terms of your ability to actually train as a professional. But it translates into a small amount [$1,500] for the agent.”

Why is the market tricky right now?

The pandemic caused upheaval in marketing budgets. Also, the people who work in marketing at shoe brands can be inexperienced in the running industry, and turnover often runs high at those positions, jeopardizing relationships between athletes and brands that have lasted years.

The marketing budget questions are not limited to running, said Matt Powell, a sports business analyst and vice president for NPD.

“I think brands are taking a more circumspect view of endorsement contracts in general—whether it’s teams, leagues, or individual athletes,” he said. “They’re [questioning whether] they’re getting the return on that investment.”

Nike is rumored to have cut its marketing budget for running, amid layoffs at the company. Nike did not return an email from Runner’s World seeking clarification on the budget or the numbers of runners it currently sponsors.

Although Nike’s superstars are said to be fine and not facing any reductions in their deals, one Nike athlete, a 2016 Olympian, told Runner’s World, “It’s pretty much assumed that everyone is getting less.”

And it’s believed that several of these contracts are for shorter periods of time than they might have otherwise been: through the world championships in 2022 in Eugene, Oregon, instead of through the next Olympics in 2024.

In answer to questions from Runner’s World about True and Droddy—as well as rumors about a new Saucony-sponsored training group—Saucony responded with an emailed statement from Fábio Tambosi, Saucony’s chief marketing officer:

“At Saucony we believe you cannot have a sports brand without the inclusion and authentic connection with athletes. We are excited about the evolution of Sports Marketing as a brand pillar for years to come, and remain committed to building an athlete strategy that aligns with this goal.” 


Good news abounds, too

On the positive side for distance runners, Puma has re-entered the distance running market. Molly Seidel was lured from Saucony to Puma, and Aisha Praught Leer told Women’s Running she signed a “big girl contract” with Puma. Additionally, the company started a group in North Carolina, coached by Alistair Cragg and with three athletes so far.

The shoe company On has also invested heavily, starting a new team in Boulder, Colorado, coached by Dathan Ritzenhein and with athletes like Joe Klecker and Leah Falland.

Keira D’Amato, 36, signed her first pro contract, with Nike, after a string of impressive performances during the pandemic on the track and roads. She has kept her job as a realtor.

Keflezighi sees an opening for apparel brands that don’t have footwear to sponsor more athletes. Women’s apparel company Oiselle has done this for years, and Athleta is now sponsoring Allyson Felix. Could a menswear company be far behind? These arrangements leave athletes free to choose their own running shoes, which can be advantageous as shoe technology advances so quickly.

Why do brands have pro runners anyway?

Beyond the individual dollar amounts in contracts, brands seem to be rethinking what the role of a professional athlete is. Is it to inspire with performances, and hope those performances translate into shoe sales? Or is it to connect with fans on social media and promote product sales that way?

“You have to kind of look at it big picture,” True told Runner’s World. “These companies aren’t giving athletes money for charity; they’re doing it for a marketing investment and they’re looking for a return on their investment. And currently—and this is not ideal, in my mind—you look at the rise of social media and influencers. They are very inexpensive for marketers to go after and they get their products in front of a lot of eyeballs.”

A 2:20 male marathoner who also has a drone and a great Instagram account or YouTube channel might be gaining followers, True said, while a 2:05 marathoner is training hard and devoting his craft toward the next race.

“The average person, they don’t understand that 15-minute difference,” he said. “One historically will cost that company a lot of money. The other does not cost much at all and will get a whole lot more eyeballs on the product. You have to understand that.”

In his nine years with Saucony, True, training on his own in Hanover, New Hampshire, was part of only one ad campaign the company ran. The company preferred to use models for its ads and catalogs.

In February, True ran 27:14 for 10,000 meters, a personal best and faster than the Olympic standard. He wore Nike spikes and a plain yellow singlet. If all goes according to plan, he’ll race the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in June and try to make his first team. His wife, professional triathlete Sarah True, is pregnant and due in July. And after that, he’ll run a fall marathon. True intended to debut at the marathon last fall, before the pandemic canceled all the races.

He’s moving ahead and training hard, despite the financial uncertainty. “I would have loved to have spent my entire career with Saucony,” he said. “I very much enjoyed working with them. I’ve been fortunate enough that I have had probably a lot more support than many other people in my position. That’s been nice.”

At this point, he is hoping another company will pick him up to take him through the next few years. “If a company just gave me a bonus structure that is fair for the result, I’d be happy with that,” he said. “It’s not like we’re looking for huge amounts of money. I’m very pragmatic and very realistic. I don’t think you should be paid for potential; I think you should be paid for results.”

(06/13/2021) Views: 297 ⚡AMP
by Runner’s World
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New Salazar documentary questions reasons for his 2019 suspension

Nike’s Big Bet, the new documentary about former Nike Oregon Project head coach Alberto Salazar by Canadian filmmaker Paul Kemp, seeks to shed light on the practices that resulted in Salazar’s shocking ban from coaching in the middle of the 2019 IAAF World Championships. Many athletes, scientists and journalists appear in the film, including Canadian Running columnist Alex Hutchinson and writer Malcolm Gladwell, distance running’s most famous superfan.

Most of them defend Salazar as someone who used extreme technology like underwater treadmills, altitude houses and cryotherapy to get the best possible results from his athletes, and who may inadvertently have crossed the line occasionally, but who should not be regarded as a cheater. (Neither Salazar nor any Nike spokesperson participated in the film. Salazar’s case is currently under appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.)

Salazar became synonymous with Nike’s reputation for an uncompromising commitment to winning. He won three consecutive New York City Marathons in the early 1980s, as well as the 1982 Boston Marathon, and set several American records on the track during his running career.

He famously pushed his body to extremes, even avoiding drinking water during marathons to avoid gaining any extra weight, and was administered last rites after collapsing at the finish line of the 1987 Falmouth Road Race.

Salazar was hired to head the Nike Oregon Project in 2001, the goal of the NOP being to reinstate American athletes as the best in the world after the influx of Kenyans and Ethiopians who dominated international distance running in the 1990s. It took a few years, but eventually Salazar became the most powerful coach in running, with an athlete list that included some of the world’s most successful runners: Mo Farah, Galen Rupp, Matt Centrowitz, Dathan Ritzenhein, Kara Goucher, Jordan Hasay, Cam Levins, Shannon Rowbury, Mary Cain, Donovan Brazier, Sifan Hassan and Konstanze Klosterhalfen.

Goucher left the NOP in 2011, disillusioned by what she saw as unethical practices involving unnecessary prescriptions and experimentation on athletes, and went to USADA in 2012. An investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency followed on the heels of a damning BBC Panorama special in 2015, and picked up steam in 2017.

When Salazar’s suspension was announced during the World Championships in 2019, he had been found guilty of multiple illegal doping practices, including injecting athletes with more than the legal limit of L-carnitine (a naturally-occurring amino acid believed to enhance performance) and trafficking in testosterone – but none of his athletes were implicated. (Salazar admitted to experimenting with testosterone cream to find out how much would trigger a positive test, but claimed he was trying to avoid sabotage by competitors.)

That Salazar pushed his athletes as hard in training as he had once pushed himself is not disputed; neither is the fact that no Salazar athlete has ever failed a drug test. Gladwell, in particular, insists that Salazar’s methods are not those of someone who is trying to take shortcuts to victory – that people who use performance-enhancing drugs are looking for ways to avoid extremes in training.

That assertion doesn’t necessarily hold water when you consider that drugs like EPO (which, it should be noted, Salazar was never suspected of using with his athletes) allow for faster recovery, which lets athletes train harder – or that the most famous cheater of all, Lance Armstrong, trained as hard as anyone. (Armstrong, too, avoided testing positive for many years, and also continued to enjoy Nike’s support after his fall from grace.)

Goucher, Ritzenhein, Levins and original NOP member Ben Andrews are the only former Salazar athletes who appear on camera, and Goucher’s is the only female voice in the entire film. It was her testimony, along with that of former Nike athlete and NOP coach Steve Magness, that led to the lengthy USADA investigation and ban.

Among other things, she claims she was pressured to take a thyroid medication she didn’t need, to help her lose weight. (The film reports that these medications were prescribed by team doctor Jeffrey Brown, but barely mentions that Brown, too, was implicated in the investigation and received the same four-year suspension as Salazar.) Ritzenhein initially declines to comment on the L-carnitine infusions, considering Salazar’s appeal is ongoing, but then states he thinks the sanctions are appropriate. Farah, as we know, vehemently denied ever having used it, then reversed himself.

It’s unfortunate that neither Cain, who had once been the U.S.’s most promising young athlete, nor Magness appear on camera. A few weeks after the suspension, Cain, who had left the NOP under mysterious circumstances in 2015, opened up about her experience with Salazar, whom she said had publicly shamed her for being too heavy, and dismissed her concerns when she told him she was depressed and harming herself. Cain’s experience is acknowledged in the film, and there’s some criticism of Salazar’s approach, but Gladwell chalks it up to a poor fit, rather than holding him accountable.

Cain’s story was part of an ongoing reckoning with the kind of borderline-abusive practices that were once common in elite sport, but that are now recognized as harmful, and from which athletes should be protected.

Gladwell asserts that coaches like Salazar have always pushed the boundaries of what’s considered acceptable or legal in the quest to be the best, and that the alternative is, essentially, to abandon elite sport. It’s an unfortunate conclusion, and one that will no doubt be challenged by many advocates of clean sport.

(05/02/2021) Views: 209 ⚡AMP
by Running Magazine
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High school 3,000m record-holder Katelyn Tuohy will make her collegiate debut this weekend

More than a year after announcing that she had committed to attending North Carolina State University in the fall of 2020, American high-school superstar Katelyn Tuohy is finally making her collegiate debut at the Camel City Invitational in Winston-Salem, NC on Saturday, Feb. 20.

This will be Tuohy’s first race since she won the 1,500m at the New York high school state meet on March 7, 2020.

With everything that has happened,  it’s easy to forget that this is one of the United States’ most decorated high school runners’ freshman year. According to an interview with Let’sRun.com, Tuohy’s coach, Laurie Henes, made the decision to have the young runner sit out the cross-country season last fall because she was not fully healthy when she arrived on campus.

Instead, they decided to take it slow, pointing out that it didn’t make sense to rush her back into a fall season that didn’t have an NCAA championship.

Evidently, Tuohy is now healthy enough to race, and she will be competing for NC for the first time this weekend in the 3,000m. She is the current high school record-holder at the distance, running a 9:01.81 in January 2019 to break Mary Cain’s previous record of 9:04.51.

With only three weeks until the NCAA XC Championships, this race will be a good test of her fitness, and track fans everywhere will be watching to see what she’ll do this Saturday.

(02/20/2021) Views: 226 ⚡AMP
by Brittany Hambleton
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How to Open Up Your Shoulders So You Can Run Tall

Two easy arm swing stretches to waken your shoulders after hours hunched over computers and phones.

Chances are, as you’re reading this, you’re sitting, hunched forward over a computer or phone. That’s part of modern life, even in “normal” times. Today, with all of our conversations, meetings, work, entertainment, parties and more conducted online it is even worse; we rarely look up and step away.

And that’s a problem. “I’m realizing I feel awful, because I’m not moving except for runs and a couple walks here and there,” Mary Cain told Jen Ator of Women’s Running last week. We need movement, and, in this abnormal context, we need to take active measures to ensure we give our bodies chances to open up to the range of motion they would have in the outdoor, physical, diverse context they are supposed to be in.

With that in mind, we would all do well to adopt a plan to activate our bodies with regularly scheduled, strategic drills and stretches to counteract what sitting is doing to our posture and mobility. These are exercises we should be doing anyway, and stay-at-home regulations provide both an incentive and a new context where we might be able to do them more comfortably.

Shoulders, Pivotal But Overlooked

Some days I’m more disciplined than others when it comes to an all-day mobility routine, but I’m finding that, more than ever, I need to at least open my shoulders and get myself upright before I can run comfortably.

Shoulders are too often overlooked by runners. You wouldn’t think that they’d be that important, compared to legs that support and power us, or even arms that drive. But shoulders are for the arms what hips are for the legs, pivotal connection points, and they too get compromised in our current environment.

“Everything we do is forward,” says Laura Bergman, rehabilitation specialist and owner of Fascia Lines clinic in Winchester, Va. “If we look at life as a workout, we’re doing a whole bunch of forward exercises, so that muscles get really short in the forward position.” Our shoulders get rotated so far forward that we can’t comfortably swing our arms backwards.

“You try to have an arm swing, and you can’t because your shoulder can’t go back,” says Bergman. So your arms end up staying in front, reaching forward or rotating and moving across the front of your body. When your arms stay forward, your weight stays forward, your leg swing has to come forward to support you, you tend to bend at the waist, and because your hips are unnaturally rotated, you can’t drive your leg back for an effective push off. To get your elbows back consistently may require some release and retraining to create the necessary range of motion and postural endurance.

Shoulder Swings To Do Now, Before Every Run

Even if you’re not ready to invest the time for more robust shoulder intervention, every runner can benefit from doing dynamic warm-up moves before every run. Physios Jim and Phil Wharton recommend two arm swing stretches to cue an upright posture, get shoulders back, and activate the muscles that will keep them there.

During years as a cross-country coach, these were the first things our squads did every day, transitioning young runners from they day spent over desks and books. I still find them particularly effective and important now as I uncrumple myself from hours hunched over my computer screen and phone to prepare to run tall.

Start with a series of open-arm swings designed to stretch the muscles in the chest and shoulders using the opposing muscles between your shoulder blades.

Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart.

With arms straight, bring your hands together in front of you at about waist height.

Inhale.

Open your arms and swing them back as far as they can go, contracting the muscles in the middle of your upper back so that it brings your shoulder blades together.

Exhale.

Swing your arms forward and repeat, raising them slightly every time until you reach shoulder height.

Drop your arms back to the starting position, at waist height, and work up the body a second time.

Second, do a series of arm swings that stretch the front of your upper arms and shoulders while working the muscles on the backside, similar to the running motion.

Start standing tall with feet shoulder-width apart and hands comfortably by your sides.

Swing your arms straight back, keeping your elbows locked and palms facing each other. Keep your shoulders low and relaxed.

After a few swings to open up, touch your fingertips together at the back of the stretch or gently interlace them.

Keeping your elbows locked straight, gently raise your hands slightly while pulling your shoulders back and down, squeezing your shoulder blades together.

Hold for 2 seconds and release. Do 10 reps.

Shoulders activated, reach up to the sky and stretch to your full height, then drop your arms down and back while keeping your posture tall—and run lightly and efficiently down the street.

(05/23/2020) Views: 401 ⚡AMP
by Podium Runner
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Two elite athletes Mary Cain and Nick Willis sign with Tracksmith as full-time employees

Tracksmith, the independent running apparel brand out of Boston, announced its newest pair of partner athletes: Mary Cain and Nick Willis. This is not a traditional partnership, though, as Cain and Willis will both be working as full-time employees for the company in addition to running for the brand.

The duo will represent Tracksmith as they both work toward the Tokyo Olympic Games, which are set for July 2021, and they will do it as amateurs, a term that Tracksmith is looking to reclaim for everyone who loves to run.

In a post entitled “For the love” on the Tracksmith website announcing the brand’s newest partnership, founder and CEO Matt Taylor talks about the word “amateur,” which comes from Latin roots meaning “to love” and “I love.”

Taylor says “amateur” only recently became a term for non-professionals (around the 19th century or so), and now the team at Tracksmith wants to take the term back to its roots and refer to anyone who loves to run as “amateurs.”

In sports, athlete sponsorships are always dictated by results, and the better an athlete performs, the stronger their brand partnerships become. On the other hand, if their results start to decline, it’s not uncommon to see these relationships deteriorate and disappear.

This won’t be the case for Cain and Willis, because, working as Tracksmith employees and representing the brand as amateurs, they will have “the freedom to participate in the sport with no expectations or pressures outside of the ones they place on themselves.”

Cain made international headlines in November when she told the New York Times about the abuse she sustained while running with the Nike Oregon Project (NOP) under now-banned coach Alberto Salazar. Cain won gold in the 3,000m at the the world junior championships in 2014 before leaving the NOP a year later. In 2020, she returned to racing for the first time since 2016, and she is now working toward making her first U.S. Olympic team.

Cain’s official role at Tracksmith is New York community manager, and she will help grow the company’s “on-the-ground and virtual efforts in one of the most vibrant running scenes in the world.”

Willis, who’s 37 years old, tweeted he was leaving Adidas on Sunday, and there was some speculation that he might be retiring. Today, he tweeted again, saying, “I’m not retiring; I’m turning amateur.” Willis is a two-time Olympic medallist for New Zealand, having won silver in the 1,500m in Beijing in 2008 and bronze in the same event eight years later in Rio.

Willis is quoted on the Tracksmith site, saying, “It may sound counterintuitive, but I always discovered that my running career thrived the most when I embraced more. My best years, my fastest times, all emerged from times in my life when my running came, well, second.”

He’ll be looking to qualify for his fourth Olympics in 2021 while working as the athlete experience manager at Tracksmith, building programs to “inspire, motivate and deepen our community’s connection to the sport.”

(05/13/2020) Views: 607 ⚡AMP
by Ben Snider-McGrath
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Nike’s Investigation of the Oregon Project is Complete

After Mary Cain alleged emotional abuse as an athlete under Alberto Salazar’s coaching, Nike conducted an internal probe of the professional running group.

Nike said on Monday that it is planning to take multiple actions to better support its female professional athletes, following an internal investigation into the now-defunct professional running group, the Oregon Project.

The company started the probe in November after former Oregon Project athlete Mary Cain went public with a New York Times op-ed piece about her experiences as a young track star under coach Alberto Salazar, who is currently serving a four-year ban from the sport for doping violations. (Salazar denies the charges and is appealing them—Nike said in an email to Women’s Running on Monday that “we support Alberto in his decision to appeal and wish him the full measure of due process that the rules require.”)

Cain joined the Oregon Project as a teen phenom, foregoing NCAA eligibility in 2013 to sign a pro contract with Nike. She moved from Bronxville, New York, to Portland, Oregon, at age 17, as a national high school record holder—the youngest athlete to ever represent the U.S. in a world-championships competition, where she raced the 1500 meters.

In the documentary, titled “I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike,” she described the pressure that Salazar and the all-male Oregon Project staff put on her to become thinner in order to perform better. Cain said she was weighed in front of her teammates and publicly shamed by Salazar for not hitting the goals he demanded—allegations that were later corroborated by former members of the group.

Now 23 years old, Cain said while training with the Oregon Project and during a period afterward, she suffered five stress fractures and didn’t menstruate for three years, which are symptoms of RED-S (relative energy deficiency in sport), a syndrome of insufficient caloric intake, with symptoms that can include excessive fatigue, amenorrhea, and decreased bone density. It can have serious long-term health effects like cardiovascular disease, infertility, and osteoporosis. Before she left Oregon to return home in 2015, she said she felt so isolated and trapped that she had suicidal thoughts and cut herself.

After the New York Times piece was published, Salazar denied any abuse or gender discrimination at the Oregon Project and added, “I may have made comments that were callous or insensitive over the course of years of helping my athletes through hard training.”

In the email to Women’s Running on Monday, Nike said the results of the internal investigation will not be made public, but “we are using the findings to identify areas where we can do better in supporting female athletes.” It was not confirmed who was involved in leading the investigation or who participated in it.

The initiatives that Nike identified include:

• Investing in scientific research into the impact of elite athlete training of girls and women

• Increasing the number of women coaches in sports

• Hiring a vice president of global women’s sports marketing in the coming weeks to have “strategic oversight” of Nike’s female athletes

• Creating an athlete think tank to help the company understand the opportunities and challenges faced by female athletes

• Partnering with Crisis Text Line, a free, confidential text messaging service for people to ask for help when in crisis

During a phone interview with Women’s Running on Monday, Cain said she was contacted in the fall by phone and email by a Nike lawyer, but opted not to participate in the probe because some of the people involved were Nike employees whose participation in it made her feel uncomfortable.

“There was no real transparency in the process, so I became very frustrated with the fact that there was no clear-cut person in charge, it was Nike investigating Nike, and seemingly some of the people involved in the process were investigating themselves,” she said.

Upon hearing the actions that Nike—the biggest sponsor of the sport’s governing body, U.S.A. Track & Field (a deal that goes through 2040 with an estimated value of $500 million)—wants to take as a result of the findings, Cain said she supports anything that promotes women’s health and opportunities in sports.

“It’s great to push money and push opportunity into the future—I whole-heartedly support that,” she said. “But the vagueness and no ability to see the report makes me worried that they’re hiding behind gestures that will almost make people forget the issues.”

Runners and other athletes have identified with Cain’s experiences since she shared them, creating a public conversation about the destructive culture underlying sports, where antiquated training philosophies perpetuated by a male-dominated coaching profession often result in eating disorders and worse for athletes.

“I have this renewed love of the sport that I only really found in the last few months because I do have so much hope in what women’s sports can and will become—so anything that’s generating interest and investment and research, I’m all for,” Cain said. “What I hope can happen through some of this work is that Nike can start hearing more voices.”

Still, Cain is hesitant to put too much stock in the proposed initiatives.

“It looks both weak and cowardly that as a corporation they won’t release what they found,” she said. “There’s a certain point where people would have a lot more respect for them as a broader institution and respect what they’re now trying to do if they also admitted what they did wrong. I can’t look at a future brightly if I can’t see them reflecting on their past.”

Since November, Cain has returned to training after about three years away, with the goal of making the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in June. She most recently raced the 3,000 meters on Saturday at the Armory in New York, finishing in 9:24.38.

In December, she told Women’s Running that advocating for women’s sports and healthy coaching practices is her new dream.

“Due to lack of education and inappropriate societal norms, many people have a poor understanding of how to address topics such as women’s cycles, weight, and training appropriately,” Cain said. “My goal is now to create educational programs that coaches and athletes must take on these subjects.”

(02/02/2020) Views: 687 ⚡AMP
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Nike has completed the internal investigation into the shuttered NOP

In a Women’s Running story, journalist Erin Strout says Nike has completed the internal investigation it committed to in the wake of Mary Cain’s explosive New York Times video. 

And while it won’t be making its findings public, it did identify and share some specific initiatives relating to its professional female athletes.

Cain’s video exposed unethical coaching practices at the Nike Oregon Project, which was shut down 10 days after USADA served head coach Alberto Salazar with a four-year ban for doping violations on September 30, 2019–practices that included body- and weight-shaming, public weigh-ins and criticism that severely damaged Cain’s physical and mental health and led to her quietly leaving the NOP in 2015. Cain disappeared from the competition circuit, but is now working her way back into the scene under a new coach, while advocating publicly for women athletes.

The iniatives Strout listed include: 1.- Studying how elite training affects female athletes, 2.- Hiring more female coaches, 3.- Creating a new senior-level position to oversee international women’s sports marketing, 4.- Creating a group of pro female athletes to inform and advise the company on concerns specific to its female athletes, 5.- A new partnership with CrisisTextLine, a confidential, free text message service for people in crisis (in Canada, the service is run by Kids Help Phone).

Strout reports that Cain was invited to participate in the investigation but declined, telling her she perceived a lack of transparency. Regarding the initiatives announced, Cain said she “supports anything that promotes women’s health and opportunities in sports,” but was critical of the decision not to share the results of the investigation publicly, calling it “weak and cowardly.”

After an absence of more than three years, Cain recently started racing again. She had a disappointing 3,000m race at the Dr. Sander Invitational in New York on the weekend, but acknowledged in a post-race interview that regaining competitiveness will take time and incremental improvement.

(01/28/2020) Views: 495 ⚡AMP
by Anne Francis
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Mary Cain Is Officially Back on the Track As She Races the Men and a Former World Junior Champ

Thursday night at the NYRR Night at the Races #2 at the Armory, Cain, running in heat 2 of the men’s 3,000m race, finished in 10th place in 9:25.50 to finish her first track race since she placed 2nd in the 1500 at the NACAC Under-23 Championships on July 15, 2016.

Mary Cain, 23, wearing a nondescript yellow outfit, went out conservatively. She was in last place on the first lap, hit 1600 in 5:00.5 and would slow slightly over the second half, but move up through the field.

Believe it or not, Cain wasn’t the only former world junior champion in her race. The West Side Runners’ Nuhamin Bogale, who won the 2010 world junior 1500m title for Ethiopia as Tizita Bogale and has a 4:03 pb, is also trying to come back from injury and raced the men like Cain. Bogale, 26, and Cain were close through the mile, then Bogale began to pull away from Cain and Bogale finished in 9:19.78.

Afterwards we spoke to Cain, who was all smiles. Cain compared the experience to a “middle school race” because she spent much of it in lane 2 passing other runners. Cain was glad to be back finishing a track race and she said she had to start somewhere and the plan is to try and improve each time out. Cain said she has just started with track workouts and the fastest 800 she has done was in her 3,000 tonight. She and her coach John Henwood would not commit to a distance for Mary and said they’ll see how her training and racing goes.

(01/11/2020) Views: 605 ⚡AMP
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Nike employees protested at the Beaverton, Ore. headquarters on Monday following the reopening of the building named after Alberto Salazar

On Monday, the day that the sportswear giant Nike reopened the Beaverton, Ore. headquarters building named after disgraced coach Alberto Salazar, Nike employees staged a protest regarding its mistreatment of women, and were threatened with termination if they spoke to the media.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, “A flier circulating among employees read, “Join us for a campus walk to celebrate what women bring to sport and to raise awareness of how Nike can support our female athletes and employees.”

There was another flier circulating ahead of the protest–this one was also distributed by Nike employees but had a different tone. It read, “No employee is permitted to speak to news media on any NIKE-related matter either on- or off-the-record, without prior approval from Nike Global Communications.” The policy continues, “Failure to comply with NIKE’s media policy could result in termination of employment.”

Nike spokesperson Greg Rossiter said to The Willamette Weekly that this cautionary flyer was not officially distributed by the company. “We respect and welcome employees’ feedback on matters that are important to them. The flier prepared by some employees was not officially distributed by Nike.”

The US Anti-Doping Agency banned Salazar in September for four years following a years-long investigation and secret arbitration case. The details appear in a BBC report and a statement by USADA outlining the specific charges, which include trafficking in testosterone (a banned substance), illegal methods and evidence-tampering at the Nike Oregon Project’s Beaverton, Oregon headquarters. Salazar is former coach to Mo Farah and Kara Goucher and current coach of marathoner Galen Rupp and the newly-crowned 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan, among others.

Nike shut down the NOP training group 11 days later. Salazar’s athletes have since found new coaches and training groups.

Following the dissolution of the NOP, American prodigy Mary Cain came forward and told her story about her experience with the group. According to Cain, the NOP’s “win at all costs” mentality involved Salazar and his assistant coaches (who are not named) pushing her to take birth control pills and diuretics to lose weight, weighing her and verbally abusing her in front of her teammates. Cain’s success on the track came at a huge price: she didn’t have her period for three years, which weakened her bone health so much that she endured five stress fractures. Her success dwindled, and when she left the program, nobody really knew why.

On Monday, protesters signs read, “We believe Mary.”

(12/10/2019) Views: 710 ⚡AMP
by Madeleine Kelly
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Jordan Hasay says she is going to be ready for the US Olympic Trials after making some changes

Jordan Hasay went into the Chicago Marathon on October 13 in excellent shape, hoping to make a run at the American record in the distance. But about two miles into the race, she tore her left hamstring. She limped past the 5K mark in 22 minutes before dropping out of the race.It was the bitter end of a tumultuous two weeks.

On September 30, her longtime coach, Alberto Salazar, was hit with a four-year ban from track and field for anti-doping violations. Hasay, 28, said she never witnessed anything improper in her time with Salazar and his team, the Nike Oregon Project. On October 11, Nike shut down the Oregon Project, leaving the athletes who had trained with Salazar to work out new coaching and training situations.

The timing of Hasay’s injury and the coaching upheaval were not ideal: American marathoners are preparing for the Olympic Marathon Trials on February 29, 2020 in Atlanta.

The upheaval has continued this month: On November 7, in an explosive opinion video in The New York Times, Mary Cain, a former teen prodigy who trained with Hasay and others at the Oregon Project, alleged she was “emotionally and physically abused” in her time with Salazar.

On a recent trip to Monaco, she formalized a relationship with Radcliffe to be her “mentor-coach.” Radcliffe held the world record in the women’s marathon, 2:15:25, for 16 years. The record fell last month to Brigid Kosgei, who ran 2:14:04, at the Chicago Marathon, where Hasay dropped out.

Hasay has long admired Radcliffe. As Hasay was training for her first marathon, Boston in 2017, her late mother used to call Hasay by the pet name “Paula.” Radcliffe and Hasay first met at the 2017 Chicago Marathon, where Hasay ran 2:20:57 and became the second-fastest American marathoner behind Deena Kastor. Hasay and Radcliffe have kept in touch since then.

Last week, together in Monaco, they sat down and mapped out Hasay’s training for the next 15 weeks until the Trials. Hasay said she believes she’s the first athlete to be coached by Radcliffe and specified that Radcliffe, and not her husband, Gary Lough, who oversees the training of Mo Farah, will be in charge.

Hasay will stay in California and communicate remotely with Radcliffe. “I’ve always really looked up to her as a role model,” Hasay said. “Since we first met two years ago in Chicago, we’ve kept in touch and she’s given me a lot of advice. She knows that I have had some very good coaches in the past. We’re not going to go in and change a bunch of things. At this point, I mainly need someone to hold me back and make sure I stay injury free. She’s such a kind person.”

After two weeks off from running after the Chicago Marathon, Hasay has returned to running almost pain free, she said, although the hamstring feels tight at faster speeds. On November 19, she did a hill workout.

Hasay said Nike staff were “incredibly supportive” of her as she considered new coaches, and they were open to her having a coach who didn’t have a relationship with the company if that is what she wanted. Radcliffe, though, was a Nike-sponsored athlete throughout her career and maintains a relationship with the company.

She is in the process of selling her home in Beaverton, Oregon, near Nike headquarters, and she will live with her father in Arroyo Grande, California, until she eventually buys a home in that area. She is more suited to the climate there, she said, where it is sunny and warm year-round, than the rainy winters of the Pacific Northwest. She also said the community has supported her since she began running at age 12. Being home “will add a lot of happiness,” she said.

When asked about Cain, Hasay said she knew her teammate was struggling during her 10 months training in Portland with the Oregon Project, but she didn’t know the extent of the problems.

“I was pretty shocked with the video,” Hasay said. “Obviously I feel really sad and I texted her and said I’m really sorry. That if I knew that it was that bad, if there was anything I could have done, I just apologize.”

Hasay said she and Cain were fairly close but she had “no idea” that Cain was cutting herself, as she said in the Times video. Cain also said Salazar was constantly trying to get her to lose weight to hit an arbitrary number, 114 pounds.

Hasay said she thought Cain’s youth and the intensity of the training and the program were a poor combination, but she expressed sympathy for both Cain and Salazar.

“It’s so sad, everyone was trying their best, though,” she said. “I really think you can’t point fingers and it’s really easy from the outside to kick Alberto under the bus. People make mistakes. He could have handled it at times differently. He really was doing his best. He wasn’t trying to cause any of the problems that she described. I sympathize with both sides.

“That’s why it’s hard—I haven’t commented on it—I don’t really have a side. I didn’t experience what she experienced, but I can see how it was so difficult. I think that her message is a good one, addressing these issues, they are important, I think it’s good overall that we’re looking at some of things.”

Hasay continued that when an athlete is still growing and going through puberty, getting to a certain weight is “difficult.” Older athletes on the team, she said, were able to push back in discussions with Salazar on weight.

“Alberto, if you ask me is he obsessed about weight? Yes, but he’s obsessed about everything,” she said. “He wanted to cut my hair [to reduce drag], he wanted me to wear a wetsuit in the Boston Marathon. It’s just every little detail is covered and weight happens to be one of those things.”

Salazar told Hasay she needed to gain weight at times. “He’s told me, ‘You don’t need to be this lean all year. I’d like you to go back up.’ We’ve had discussions. I think when you’re older and more experienced, you can speak up. It’s hard when she’s so young and still growing. It was just the whole situation wasn’t the right fit, unfortunately.”

(11/29/2019) Views: 1,887 ⚡AMP
by Runner’s World
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2020 US Olympic Trials Marathon

2020 US Olympic Trials Marathon

The 2020 US Olympic Trials for both men and women took place in Atlanta, Ga on Sunday Feb 29. Runners had to qualify by running certain standards beforehand. The trials are hosted by the Atlanta Track club. The course runs through the heart of Atlanta and past monuments from the 1996 Olympic Games Most countries around the world use a...

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Another Nike Runner, Amy Yoder Begley says Coach Criticized Her Body

Less than a week after runners Mary Cain and Kara Goucher accused their former Nike Oregon Project coach, Alberto Salazar, of mental and physical abuse, another woman has come out with her own allegations.

Amy Yoder Begley was an Indiana state-champion runner before joining the Nike team in 2007. Within months, she was targeted by Salazar for her weight, as Cain was. According to the New York Times, Salazar demanded she be leaner, tried to control her relationships with her teammates, and complained about her laugh being annoying.

Yoder Begley says Salazar frequently flip-flopped in his criticism of her. “If I had a bad workout on a Tuesday, he would tell me I looked flabby and send me to get weighed,” she said. “Then, three days later, I would have a great workout, and he would say how lean I looked and tell me my husband was a lucky guy. I mean, really? My body changed in three days?”

Salazar accused Yoder Begley of not following her nutrition plan and made other comments about her body. “He was obsessed with her butt,” Goucher told the Times. “He would always talk about how it was hanging out of her shorts.”

The allegations were also confirmed by Steve Magness, Salazar’s assistant coach from 2011 to 2012. “I remember Salazar saying something like, ‘Her ass was hanging out of her uniform,’” he recalled to Sports Illustrated. “In that moment, he added, ‘I’m done with you. I’m tired of fighting this weight issue. We’re done.’ Amy countered by saying she hadn’t gained any weight. Alberto said he didn’t care what her weight said. ‘I know you’ve gotten bigger.’ There was this conversation on if her jean sizes had gone up because her butt was bigger. It was the most bizarre thing ever.”

Cain made similar allegations against Salazar, saying he had pressured her to maintain an extremely low weight, which caused her to break several bones, stop getting her period, and develop disordered eating that led to suicidal thoughts. Salazar addressed the allegations in a statement to Sports Illustrated:

My foremost goal as a coach was to promote athletic performance in a manner that supported the good health and well-being of all my athletes. On occasion, I may have made comments that were callous or insensitive over the course of years of helping my athletes through hard training. If any athlete was hurt by any comments that I have made, such an effect was entirely unintended, and I am sorry. I do dispute, however, the notion that any athlete suffered any abuse or gender discrimination while running for the Oregon Project.

Meanwhile, Nike has said an investigation into the accusations is underway.

(11/15/2019) Views: 883 ⚡AMP
by Marie Lodi
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Alberto Salazar Responds To Mary Cain's Allegations Of Abuse

In response to Mary Cain's accusations of physical and emotional abuse against her former coach, Alberto Salazar has provided a statement to The Oregonian's Ken Goe refuting Cain's claims.

“Mary’s father is a medical doctor, and both of her parents were deeply involved in her training, competition and health throughout the period she was coached by me. For example, Mary’s father consulted on medications and supplements Mary used during her time at the NOP. Neither of her parents, nor Mary, raised any of the issues that she now suggests occurred while I was coaching her. To be clear, I never encouraged her, or worse yet, shamed her, to maintain an unhealthy weight.”

Salazar writes: “Mary at times struggled to find and maintain her ideal performance and training weight."

Salazar told Goe that the Nike Oregon Project did employ a nutritionist and sports psychologist, contrary to what Cain has asserted.

Salazar also shared a text message that Cain sent him in April of this year.

“Thanks again so much for a great trip -- I’m excited to be working together again and I really want this. Haha got back to a chilly morning in NY and even skipped class just to prioritize training and recovery since that’s my No. 1.”

In a tweet thread this morning, Cain discussed her decision to reach out to Salazar then.Nike released their own statement on the matter, calling Cain's allegations "deeply troubling," while also pointing out that Cain had shown interest in rejoining NOP in April. The brand said they will launch an immediate investigation

 

(11/09/2019) Views: 637 ⚡AMP
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More disturbing news about coach Alberto Salazar of the Nike Oregon Project and what about Nike’s founder and billionaire Phil Knight

There has been much talk about Alberto Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project lately but let's not forget about mister NIKE Phil Knight.  

Just this week teenage super star Mary Cain said her career was ruined by Salazar and Nike. She was mentally abused by coach Salazar when she was part of the Nike Oregon Project. Nike knew what was going on.  

Let’s not forget who Nike is. Phil Knight built Nike into the giant company it is today. He was running things day to day at Nike when the Oregon Project was started in 2001. I am sure he pushed coach Salazar to do whatever it took for their athletes to win races.

Phil Knight ran over a lot of people and companies as he built Nike. Today he is worth over 31 billion dollars and growing. Nike stock is trading near an all time high. I am sure their $250 racing shoes must be helping. A shoe that many feel should be ban. I am sure they did not have it tested or looked at by the world’s governing body (IAAF) before they released it. They just put it on the market. That’s the Phil Knight way. That’s the Salazar way.

I am not a fan of either men. Nor am I a fan of Nike. They tired to destroy my magazine Runner’s World in the early 80’s because I would not rate their shoe number one. This is another story I have told before.  

That’s in the past and I have moved on. But things that have been going on more recently can’t be overlooked.

Nike’s power is overwhelming. They think they can do whatever they want. They are still even supporting Salazar, a long-time friend of Phil Knight. Yet Salazar has been banned for four years for doping violations. Should have been a lifetime ban.

How can we continue to turn our back on this? We can’t. We can’t just continue to buy their shoes, making Phil Knight and family even richer.

In response to Mary Cain’s allegations of forced weight loss and public shaming by former coach Alberto Salazar at a now-disbanded Nike-supported running program, Nike has started an investigation into the matter.

When asked for comment regarding Cain’s allegations Friday, a Nike spokesman issued the following statement: “These are deeply troubling allegations which have not been raised by Mary or her parents before. Mary was seeking to rejoin the Oregon Project and Alberto’s team as recently as April of this year and had not raised these concerns as part of that process. We take the allegations extremely seriously and will launch an immediate investigation to hear from former Oregon Project athletes. At Nike, we seek to always put the athlete at the center of everything we do, and these allegations are completely inconsistent with our values.”

Cain’s also claimed that Nike needs to change because it “controls all the top coaches, athletes, races and even the governing body,” and there is a need for more women to be in charge.Nike response seems rather vague to me.  What do you think we should do? Thanks Mary Cain for sharing your story. That was very brave. 

(11/08/2019) Views: 2,099 ⚡AMP
by Bob Anderson (Founder Runner’s World and My Best Runs)
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Mary Cain says that she Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until she Joined Nike

Mary Cain’s male coaches were convinced she had to get “thinner, and thinner, and thinner.” Then her body started breaking down.

At 17, Mary Cain was already a record-breaking phenom: the fastest girl in a generation.

While attending high school in Bronxville, New York, she set the high school freshman 1500-meter record of 4:17.84 in 2011. The teen went on to run 1:59.51 for 800 meters and 4:04.62 for 1500 meters outdoors, as well as 4:24:11 for one mile and 9:38.68 for two miles indoors, and set numerous high school records at the state and national level. 

Then in August 2013, at age 17, she became the youngest runner in history to make the 1500-meter final at the IAAF World Championships, which she finished 10th in.

In 2013, she was signed by the best track team in the world, Nike’s Oregon Project, run by its star coach Alberto Salazar.

Then everything collapsed. Her fall was just as spectacular as her rise.

Instead of becoming a symbol of girls’ unlimited potential in sports, Cain became yet another standout young athlete who got beaten down by a win-at-all-costs culture. Girls like Cain become damaged goods and fade away. We rarely hear what happened to them. We move on.

The problem is so common it affected the only other female athlete featured in the last Nike video ad Cain appeared in, the figure skater Gracie Gold. When the ad came out in 2014, like Cain, Gold was a prodigy considered talented enough to win a gold medal at the next Olympics. And, like Cain, Gold got caught in a system where she was compelled to become thinner and thinner. Gold developed disordered eating to the point of imagining taking her life.

Nike has come under fire in recent months for doping charges involving Salazar. He is now banned from the sport for four years, and his elite Nike team has been dismantled. In October, Nike’s chief executive resigned. (In an email, Salazar denied many of Cain’s claims, and said he had supported her health and welfare. Nike did not respond to a request for comment.)

The culture that created Salazar remains.

Kara Goucher, an Olympic distance runner who trained with the same program under Salazar until 2011, said she experienced a similar environment, with teammates weighed in front of one another.

“When you’re training in a program like this, you’re constantly reminded how lucky you are to be there, how anyone would want to be there, and it’s this weird feeling of, ‘Well, then, I can’t leave it. Who am I without it?’” Goucher said. “When someone proposes something you don’t want to do, whether it’s weight loss or drugs, you wonder, ‘Is this what it takes? Maybe it is, and I don’t want to have regrets.’ Your careers are so short. You are desperate. You want to capitalize on your career, but you’re not sure at what cost.”

She said that after being cooked meager meals by an assistant coach, she often had to eat more in the privacy of her condo room, nervous he would hear her open the wrappers of the energy bars she had there.

A big part of this problem is that women and girls are being forced to meet athletic standards that are based on how men and boys develop. If you try to make a girl fit a boy’s development timeline, her body is at risk of breaking down. That is what happened to Cain.

After months of dieting and frustration, Cain found herself choosing between training with the best team in the world, or potentially developing osteoporosis or even infertility. She lost her period for three years and broke five bones. She went from being a once-in-a-generation Olympic hopeful to having suicidal thoughts.

“America loves a good child prodigy story, and business is ready and waiting to exploit that story, especially when it comes to girls,” said Lauren Fleshman, who ran for Nike until 2012.

“When you have these kinds of good girls, girls who are good at following directions to the point of excelling, you’ll find a system that’s happy to take them. And it’s rife with abuse.”

We don’t typically hear from the casualties of these systems — the girls who tried to make their way in this system until their bodies broke down and they left the sport. It’s easier to focus on bright new stars, while forgetting about those who faded away. We fetishize the rising athletes, but we don’t protect them. And if they fail to pull off what we expect them to, we abandon them.

Mary Cain is 23, and her story certainly isn’t over. By speaking out, she’s making sure of that.

(11/07/2019) Views: 949 ⚡AMP
by Lindsay Crouse (New York Times)
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High Schooler Katelyn Tuohy breaks Mary Cain’s 3K record clocking 9:01

Katelyn Tuohy added to her long list of impressive high school accomplishments by breaking Mary Cain’s high school 3,000m record on Saturday at the Dr. Sander Invitational in New York City. 

Tuohy ran in her first professional field, taking down several pro and collegiate-level women to finish third in 9:01.81. Cain’s former record was held at 9:04.51.

On Instagram, Tuohy admitted she was just shy of her goal of sub-9:00, but that she “had a great time getting my feet wet and seeing what it’s like racing the big dogs! Today was a learning experience and I am so thankful for having this opportunity.” Brooks runner Amanda Eccleston took the win in 8:56.68, followed by Heather Kampf in 8:56.87. Canadian Danielle Jossinet of Guelph finished in a new personal best and U Sports second-place ranking of 9:19.93. 

Cain achieved huge stardom as a high schooler for breaking many records and qualifying for the 2013 World Championships at only 17. Tuohy has also broken countless course records, and in the fall she became only the second woman to win two consecutive Nike Cross Nationals titles. 

(01/28/2019) Views: 947 ⚡AMP
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15-year-old Katelyn Tuohy Missed Molly Huddle’s Junior 5K record by a Fraction

Katelyn Tuohy, the 15-year-old North Rockland High sophomore who won the Nike Nationals girls cross-country title last fall, ran well again today. Running the indoor 5,000 meters at the Virginia Showcase at Liberty University, Tuohy finished first with a time of 15:37.12 to break the U.S. girls high school record. Tuohy almost beat Molly Huddle junior record of 15:36.95 from 2003. Tuohy smashed Brie Oakley's former indoor mark of 15:55.75 and Mary Cain's outdoor mark of 15:45.46 from 2013. (01/20/2018) Views: 1,995 ⚡AMP
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