Photo: Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images
The American long distance runner Mary Cain, whose career failed after what he has called four miserable years at the Nike Oregon Project, filed a $ 20 million (€ 17.3 million) lawsuit against his former coach, Alberto Salazar, and his employer, Nike.
Cain accused Salazar of emotionally abusing her when he joined the team in 2012 at age 16, The Oregonian / OregonLive reported. The lawsuit describes Salazar as an angry control freak who was obsessed with Cain’s weight and publicly humiliated her for it..
That, he said, affected his physical and mental health. Nike was aware of but did not intervene, according to the lawsuit.
Nike did not respond to newspaper messages seeking comment. Salazar could not be reached, but she has previously denied the abuse allegations and said neither Cain nor her parents expressed concerns while she was on the show.
In the lawsuit filed Monday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Cain alleges that Salazar repeatedly asked her to get on a weighing scale in front of others and would later criticize her.
Salazar also monitored Cain’s food intake, the athlete reported. Sometimes Cain was so hungry, he said, that he stole energy bars from his teammates.
Cain, 25, turned to his parents for support, alleging that Salazar finally got tired of parental interference. By 2019, Cain says she was depressed, had an eating disorder, generalized anxiety, and was cutting.
“Nike was allowing Alberto to shame women, objectify their bodies, and ignore their health and well-being as part of his culture.”denounced Kristen West McCall, a Portland attorney representing Cain. “This was a systemic and widespread problem. And they did it for their own gratification and benefit. “
In 2019, Cain told The New York Times in a video essay that she was emotionally and physically abused while on the show. Nike at the time called the allegations deeply troubling and said it would investigate them.
Salazar helped found the Nike Oregon Project to make American distance runners competitive with the rest of the world.
El Project Nike Oregon was dissolved in 2019 after the United States Anti-Doping Agency charged Salazar with three violations. The agency vetoed him from the sport for four years and Salazar appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Last month, the court upheld Salazar’s four-year ban from the sport and some of the USADA’s findings. It stated that Salazar attempted an “intentional and orchestrated plan with the sole objective of” misleading “anti-doping investigators when he tampered with the evidence.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.