Nike Runner Mary Cain Alleges Coach Alberto Salazar ‘Emotionally & Physically Abused’ Her In ‘New York Times’ Op-Ed
Former Nike runner Mary Cain alleged her coach Alberto Salazar inflicted emotional and physical pain on her in a damning op-ed on Thursday.
In the New York Times video, 23-year-old Cain explains she became trapped in a system that continuously oppresses female athletes’ physical health to the point of forcing them to lose extraordinary amounts of weight.
“I got caught in a system designed by and for men, which destroys the bodies of young girls. Rather than force young girls to fend for themselves, we have to protect them,” Cain said in the piece, titled I Was The Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike.
Cain — who won a gold medal in the 3000 meter event at the 2014 World Junior Championships in Oregon — also claimed the training Salazar forced on her led to her breaking five bones and to her period stopping for three years as a result of very low estrogen levels. As part of her training, Cain claims, Salazar forced her to take diuretics, which are illegal in track and field.
“Young girls’ bodies are being ruined by an emotionally and physically abusive system,” Cain added in the video of the “crisis” at Nike and in women’s sports in general.
Cain also noted that Nike’s training staff was comprised only of men and that Salazar and the rest of them pushed her to drop down to a weight of 114 pounds.
Last month, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency banned Salazar — who is known for training medal-winning Olympic athletes like British runner Mo Farah — from athletics and from the Nike Oregon Project for four years due to violations related to tampering with the anti-doping process and attempted trafficking of substances like testosterone. The Nike Oregon Project, which Cain left in 2016, is now shut down.
Nike CEO Mark Parker, who is set to resign in January, said in a statement to Reuters that “unsubstantiated assertions” and the doping scandal involving Salazar led to a “distraction” for athletes that prevented them from being able to concentrate on training and competitions. Thus, he decided to shut down the Nike Oregon Project.
Nike has faced severe backlash from athletes in recent years, from Colin Kaepernick pushing for the apparel giant to cancel the sale of sneakers carrying the Betsy Ross version of the American flag to NBA star Kawhi Leonard suing the company last June for copyright infringement of his “Klaw” logo.