On November 7, in a New York Times story and video, former Nike Oregon Project athlete Mary Cain described a toxic culture of weight-shaming and emotional abuse by head coach Alberto Salazar, who on September 30 had been banned from the sport for doping violations. Until now, marathoner Jordan Hasay had not commented on the story, which sparked a storm of comment, though the two women were teammates at the NOP between 2013 and 2015. Yesterday Hasay announced she will be coached by former marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe, and today she broke her silence on Cain.
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“Be bold. Take risks. Trust your gut. Express gratitude. Believe in your power. Exceed expectations. Don’t take no for an answer. Be your best self. Don’t look back.” . Am excited and honored to have @paula_radcliffe as my coaching advisor as we partner together to build my training program. It feels surreal that when I finished my longest run ever at the time, 18 miles, in the build up to my first Boston marathon, my mom texted me “well done, Paula.” I’ve now run 3 marathons with the results being 3 podiums, one in which was the second fastest American time ever. However, I have bigger goals ahead. I have been blessed to have had great coaches who taught me so much about training at an elite level. I look forward to working with Paula, whose expertise in being the former world record holder in the marathon is unparalleled, and applying the lessons I’ve learned over the last decade to my training moving forward through the Olympic Trials marathon @usatf @atlantatrackclub and beyond. I have always looked up to Paula as a pioneer for what is possible in the marathon, and most importantly in being a kind and inspiring person in life. I hope to follow in her footsteps as I continue my journey in the sport. . I will be based in my hometown of Arroyo Grande, CA. Here I am blessed to be part of a strong and supportive community that has continually humbled me over the years by its overwhelming support. I cannot wait to be back home with family and this community full time. . I would like to thank @nike for their continued support as well as my management team @pacesportsmanagement, other sponsors, strength coach @davidmchenry13 @pace_pdx, therapists, friends, family and fans who have always been in my corner. Looking forward to starting a new era and am motivated to continue to inspire and be inspired by all of you in all of our journeys! 💗😊 – Jordan
After the news of Salazar’s ban, Hasay said little, other than to say that he “treated (her) with nothing but respect, and the highest of ethical coaching standards.” Later she said she had never observed any kind of doping activity or been offered anything beyond the iron and vitamin D supplements and multivitamins she takes daily.
When Cain’s story came out, Hasay said nothing, until today. Here’s what she told Runners World:
“It’s so sad, everyone was trying their best, though,” she said. “I really think you can’t point fingers and it’s really easy from the outside to kick Alberto under the bus. People make mistakes. He could have handled it at times differently. He really was doing his best. He wasn’t trying to cause any of the problems that she described. I sympathize with both sides.
“That’s why it’s hard—I haven’t commented on it—I don’t really have a side. I didn’t experience what she experienced, but I can see how it was so difficult. I think that her message is a good one, addressing these issues, they are important, I think it’s good overall that we’re looking at some of things.”
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Thanks to @chris_j_chavez for giving us a platform to share our stories. Thank you to my fellow athletes for standing with me. Our voices are powerful and we can’t stay silent. Change happens when we come together and stand up to a toxic system. The full piece is linked in my bio. 💛
Hasay goes on to say she didn’t think the program was a good match for an athlete as young as Cain (who was 16 when she joined the NOP), and that some of the other athletes had the confidence to push back against Salazar’s requests because they were older. She admits that Salazar was obsessed with athletes’ weight, but says he was obsessive about every aspect of their training, even suggesting that Hasay cut her hair to reduce drag, and (incredibly) that she wear a wetsuit to race the Boston Marathon.
Hasay claims Salazar even told her she didn’t have to stay so lean when she wasn’t racing, and that she should put some weight on. “It’s just every little detail is covered,” Hasay told Runners World, “and weight happens to be one of those things.”
In the wake of Salazar’s ban, which was followed by Nike shutting down the Oregon Project, the running world has been curious to see what decisions his former athletes would make about their coaching and future careers. Hasay, 28, announced on Instagram yesterday that Radcliffe will be her “coaching advisor,” and Hasay will train out of her hometown of Arroyo Grande, California. (Radcliffe’s husband, Gary Lough, coaches Hasay’s former teammate, Sir Mo Farah, who left the NOP in 2017.)
The athlete posted on Instagram: “I have always looked up to Paula as a pioneer for what is possible in the marathon, and most importantly in being a kind and inspiring person in life. I hope to follow in her footsteps as I continue my journey in the sport.”
Some observers expressed confusion over Hasay’s choice, because of Radcliffe’s much-publicized reaction to the Salazar ban, and about the term “coaching advisor.”
The Salazar ban came in the midst of this year’s World Championships in Doha, and less than two weeks before the Chicago Marathon, where both Hasay and teammate Galen Rupp DNF’d. Hasay was targetting Deena Kastor’s American record of 2:19:36 (set in 2006), but suffered a hamstring injury two miles in and did not record a split after 5K.
Here's why this is weird: 1. What the hell is a coaching "advisor"? If she's going to coach you, even remotely, just call her coach. Why the qualifier? 2. Paula has zero coaching experience. Just because you held a WR doesn't mean you know how to coach a world-class athlete. 1/2 https://t.co/voAr4EBna8
— Mario Fraioli (@mariofraioli) November 20, 2019
Some speculated that her DNF had more to do with the emotional fallout of losing her coach, but Runners World has reported that an MRI showed a serious hamstring tear that has nonetheless healed without surgery. Hasay confirms she will race the US Marathon Trials, to take place in Atlanta on February 29.
The race was won by Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, who smashed Radcliffe’s world record by more than a minute, finishing in a jaw-dropping 2:14:04. (Radcliffe had set the previous record at 2:15:25 at the 2003 London Marathon.)