Former Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Nike announced plans to investigate its shuttered distance running program, the Oregon Project, after athlete Mary Cain's op-ed in the New York Times spurred harsh criticism and concern, reports the Washington Post.

Why it matters: In a video published on Friday, Cain characterized a "systemic crisis in women's sports and at Nike." Thereafter, several former members of the Oregon Project corroborated Cain’s accounts or shared their own stories. The Oregon Project shut down when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency banned coach Alberto Salazar, per the New York Times.

What they're saying: Nike released a statement saying Cain's allegations are "completely inconsistent with our values," and they always try to put the athlete first, per the Post.

  • "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 tweeted her reaction to Nike's statement, responding to the company's claim that she met with Salazar in the spring of this year.

"We quickly fell out of touch this summer, and that made the rose color glasses finally fall off. He didn’t care about me as a person; only as the product, the performer, the athlete. Then, after the USADA report dropped, I felt this quick and sudden sense of release."

Context per Axios' Fadel Allassan: An all-male coaching staff, widely considered the best in the U.S., continually pressured Cain to lose weight, per Cain. When she didn't, Salazar would publicly shame her.

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