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

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
27 mins ago - Health

The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Some states are seeing dangerous levels of coronavirus hospitalizations, with hospitals warning that they could soon become overwhelmed if no action is taken to slow the spread.

Why it matters: Patients can only receive good care if there's enough care to go around — which is one reason why the death rate was so much higher in the spring, some experts say.

Scoop: The Lincoln Project is becoming a media business

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Lincoln Project is looking to beef up its media business after the election, sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: The group recently signed with the United Talent Agency (UTA) to help build out Lincoln Media and is weighing offers from different television studios, podcast networks and book publishers.

Trump, Biden strategies revealed in final ad push

Data: Bully Pulpit Interactive; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

President Trump is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into Facebook ads on the Supreme Court and conservative judges in the final stretch of his campaign, while Joe Biden is spending over a million on voter mobilization, according to an analysis by Axios using data from Bully Pulpit Interactive.

The big picture: Trump's Facebook ad messaging has fluctuated dramatically in conjunction with the news cycle throughout his campaign, while Biden's messaging has been much more consistent, focusing primarily on health care and the economy.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!