Nov 7, 2019

Nike Oregon Project "emotionally and physically abused" runners, athlete says

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

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Nike will investigate Oregon Project following Mary Cain's NYT op-ed

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.

Go deeperArrowNov 9, 2019

World Anti-Doping Agency recommends Olympic ban for Russia

Russian athletes wear neutral uniforms at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Photo: Nils Petter Nilsson/Getty Images

A World Anti-Doping Agency committee recommended a sweeping four-year international sports ban for Russia, which would impact its participation in next year's Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: The ban stems from the discovery that multiple positive drug tests were deleted by Russian officials from a database during the agency's investigation into the massive doping scandal that broke in 2016.

Go deeperArrowNov 25, 2019

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

U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe at the 2019 Women's World Cup. She's pledged to posthumously donate her brain to concussion research. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images

Girls who play soccer are at risk from concussion at nearly the same rate as boys who play football, a new study finds.

By the numbers: Boys who played football had the most concussions — 10 per every 10,000 practices or games — according to the study of 20 sports, published in the journal Pediatrics. Girls who played soccer were next, with concussions occurring in eight per 10,000 instances.

Go deeperArrowNov 7, 2019