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Nike announces new pregnancy policy for sponsored athletes

Some Nike athletes took the sponsor to task over the issue of pregnancy and performance, and Nike has responded with a more supportive policy

Allyson Felix

After several US athletes, including Alysia Montaño, six-time Olympic gold medallist Allyson Felix and former elite marathoner Kara Goucher publicly criticized Nike for financially penalizing athletes who decide to start a family, the company has announced significant changes to its policies. As with many professions, it’s not unusual in US athletes’ contracts for compensation to be tied to performance, and according to a letter shared on social media by Felix, Nike has now promised no performance-related pay reductions for 18 months, dating from one month into an athlete’s pregnancy.

This effectively gives female athletes 10 months post-birth to regain their fitness and ability to compete at their pre-pregnancy level.

Felix posted: “Our voices have power. NIKE has joined in officially and contractually providing maternal protection to the female athletes they sponsor. This means that female athletes will no longer be financially penalized for having a child. I’m grateful to John Slusher and Mark Parker for their leadership and their desire to guide NIKE as a company who believes that we are all more than athletes. And THANK YOU to the brands who have already made this commitment. Who is next?”

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baby girl you light up my world✨

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RELATED: Allyson Felix no longer with Nike, signs with Athleta

Montaño made an impassioned statement about the situation via a video for the New York Times in May 2019. Shortly after that, Felix testified before the US House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee hearing on overcoming racial disparities in the maternal mortality crisis. (Felix underwent an emergency C-section in November 2018, and her daughter Camryn spent several months in the NICU.)

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Lashinda Demus: Mom of Three, became pregnant with twins in her 3rd season as a professional athlete, She was highly decorated, already had become an Olympian and was ranked number one in the world. Her quote; “ The stress, depression and hiding that came with it was overwhelming, this support would have been critical for a young mom like myself.” -@ldemus • As for me, I saw her and believed I can do it too without knowing her struggles and loss of support. This was instrumental for me in believing this was possible. Here is to no more hiding in the shadows of shame for choosing motherhood and career. • Lashinda went on to dominate the World Stage. The following year after giving birth she narrowly missed the Beijing Olympic team finishing 4th. Here are her results as follows after having her twins: ⭐️2008: 4th Olympic trials finisher. ⭐️2009: SILVER MEDAL at Berlin World Champs and a GOLD on the 4x400m relay team ⭐️2011: WORLD CHAMPION in Daegu ran 52.47 in 400mH fastest ever time by an American (now second fastest) ⭐️2012: London Olympics SILVER MEDAL ⭐️2013: BRONZE MEDAL At the Moscow WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS. — less of value? Where? I’ll wait. #Momstrong #DreamMaternity

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Felix, whose contract renewal negotiations with Nike stalled over the issue, signed a sponsorship deal with the women’s sportswear brand Athleta earlier this month.

Goucher has been exploring trail running over the past few months, winning her age group at the Leadville Trail Marathon in June.