Runner Mary Cain sues Nike and former coach for alleged abuse

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Distance runner Mary Cain accused Nike and her former coach Alberto Salazar of abuse in a $20 million lawsuit filed this week, the Oregonian first reported.

Why it matters: Cain, 25, had a promising career, becoming in 2013 the youngest American athlete to make a World Championships team at age 17. She alleges in the suit that she faced sustained emotional abuse by Salazar after joining the Nike Oregon Project in 2012, AP noted Tuesday.

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  • She accuses Nike of knowing this and failing to intervene. Cain said it affected her physical and mental health.

What they're saying: Kristen West McCall, a Portland lawyer representing Cain, alleged that "Nike was letting Alberto weight-shame women, objectify their bodies, and ignore their health and wellbeing as part of its culture," according to multiple reports.

  • "This was a systemic and pervasive issue. And they did it for their own gratification and profit," McCall added.

For the record: Neither Nike nor Salazar could immediately be reached for comment, but he has previously denied Cain's allegations, which came to international attention in November 2019, when she appeared in a New York Times video op-ed.

  • Nike at the time described Cain's allegations as "deeply troubling" and "completely inconsistent with our values."

  • The company announced in October 2019 that it was shuttering its Oregon athletic training and track program after Salazar was banned from the sport by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for trafficking banned substances.

  • The United States Center for SafeSport issued Salazar with another ban in 2020 following sexual and emotional misconduct allegations and he was later indefinitely barred from athletics, Runners World reports.

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