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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

Updated 5 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

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