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Nike responds to abuse claims by former runner

Mary Cain runs during the IAAF World Junior Championships on July 24, 2014, in Eugene, Ore.
Mary Cain runs during the IAAF World Junior Championships on July 24, 2014, in Eugene, Ore.
(Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images)

Nike has vowed to investigate claims by a former middle-distance runner who said she was subjected to physical and mental abuse while training with the sportswear giant’s now-shuttered Oregon Project.

Mary Cain published an opinion piece in the New York Times on Thursday saying coaches pressured her to become “thinner and thinner,” which ultimately caused her to stop menstruating, break five bones and become suicidal.

“We take the allegations extremely seriously and will launch an immediate investigation to hear from former Oregon Project athletes,” the company said. “At Nike we seek to always put the athlete at the center of everything we do, and these allegations are inconsistent with our values.”

The Oregon Project was created in 2001 for elite runners, serving as a base for the likes of Galen Rupp and Mo Farah. It was controversial almost from the start and came under increased scrutiny as team members alleged wrongdoing.

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This fall, coach Alberto Salazar was banned four years for trafficking testosterone and other anti-doping violations.

Cain joined the program in 2013 as a heralded teenager, but left in 2015.

In its statement, Nike said she had never before raised concerns and “was seeking to rejoin the Oregon Project and Alberto’s team as recently as April of this year.”

The program was shut down soon after the sanctions against Salazar.


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