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Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Track and field phenom Mary Cain was the youngest American athlete to make a World Championships team at age 17. But her trajectory was dismantled when she joined a prestigious Nike distance running group in Oregon in 2013, she said in a New York Times video op-ed.

Why it matters: Cain's story reveals some of the methods employed at the recently shuttered Nike Oregon Project and the "win-at-all-costs culture" touted by its coach Alberto Salazar, who now faces a four-year athletics ban for doping offenses.

What she's saying: An all-male coaching staff, widely considered the best in the U.S., continually pressured Cain to lose weight, Cain said. When she didn't, Salazar would publicly shame her.

  • Salazar wanted to give Cain birth control pills and diuretics to encourage weight loss — despite bans on the latter substance, Cain noted.
  • Cain said she developed Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports (RED-S) syndrome, didn't have a period for three years and broke five different bones because she didn't have the necessary levels of estrogen to maintain bone health. She also developed suicidal thoughts and inflicted self-injury.
  • When she told Salazar and his coaching staff about her struggles, they allegedly ignored her concerns.
"I was emotionally and physically abused by a system designed by Alberto and endorsed by Nike."
— Mary Cain

Salazar has denied many of Cain's claims, and Nike did not respond to a request for comment, according to NYT.

The bottom line: Nike announced it was shuttering its athletic training and track program, the Nike Oregon Project, in October, just two weeks after Salazar was banned from the sport by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for trafficking banned substances. But there remains "a systemic crisis in women's sports and at Nike, in which young girls' bodies are being ruined," Cain said.

Go deeper: Concussion risk for girls in soccer second only to boys in football

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.

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