The lawsuit accused Salazar of emotional and physical abuse towards Cain and highlighted Nike’s alleged failure to provide adequate oversight during her time with Salazar. Cain, who ran for Nike’s Oregon Project from 2012 to 2016, spoke out in 2019 about abuse within the program, exposing broader cultural issues at Nike, including a reported “boys’ club” atmosphere.
Salazar, once celebrated for coaching Olympic medallists Mo Farah, Galen Rupp and Matt Centrowitz, faced a permanent ban from working with U.S. track and field by U.S. SafeSport for alleged sexual assault and a doping scandal. Nike disbanded the Oregon Project in 2019, and Salazar’s name was removed from a building on the company’s campus following the ban.
Cain’s allegations against Salazar included controlling behaviour, inappropriate comments about her body and humiliating practices, which led to depression, an eating disorder and self-harm. Nike was implicated in the lawsuit for allegedly not taking sufficient action to protect Cain, a sponsored athlete. Salazar denied the allegations, emphasizing his commitment to athletes’ well-being. Cain filed the $20 million lawsuit in 2021.
Numerous runners have come out and criticized Nike for its lack of support for female athletes. In 2018, U.S. Olympian Allyson Felix called out the brand for allegedly asking her to take a 70 per cent pay cut during her pregnancy, prompting Felix to leave Nike and join the female-powered brand Athleta before the Tokyo Olympics.
The settlement ends one of Nike’s highest-profile legal battles. The terms of the settlement remain undisclosed.