Steroid use by Nike-sponsored athletes and widespread under-the-table payments to amateur competitors are among the allegations in a book released this week that details the inner workings of the athletic shoe and apparel giant.
“Swoosh, The Story of Nike and the Men Who Played There,” was written by sisters Julie Strasser and Laurie Becklund.
Strasser was Nike’s first advertising director and her husband, Rob, was the marketing whiz during the company’s rise during the 1980s. Becklund is a reporter for The Times.
The authors wrote that competitors for Athletics West, the Nike-sponsored track club that operated from 1977-1985, used steroids and officials of the club were aware of it.
Dick Brown, exercise physiologist for Athletics West, said the club did nothing to encourage or discourage use of steroids.
Nike began paying amateur athletes to wear its shoes in 1973, the book says, when distance runner Steve Prefontaine was given $5,000 a year. The practice later spread to college athletes.
A Nike statement said it considered the authors’ approach slanted because Rob Strasser now heads a consulting company whose clients include Adidas, one of Nike’s major competitors.