Nike completes NOP investigation (but won’t release its findings)

Though the brand declined to publicize its findings, it shared some plans for improving things for female athletes

January 28th, 2020 by | Posted in The Scene | Tags: , , , , , ,

In a Women’s Running story, journalist Erin Strout says Nike has completed the internal investigation it committed to in the wake of Mary Cain’s explosive New York Times video. And while it won’t be making its findings public, it did identify and share some specific initiatives relating to its professional female athletes.

Cain’s video exposed unethical coaching practices at the Nike Oregon Project, which was shut down 10 days after USADA served head coach Alberto Salazar with a four-year ban for doping violations on September 30, 2019–practices that included body- and weight-shaming, public weigh-ins and criticism that severely damaged Cain’s physical and mental health and led to her quietly leaving the NOP in 2015. Cain disappeared from the competition circuit, but is now working her way back into the scene under a new coach, while advocating publicly for women athletes.

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Reflecting on this last week I have made big improvements. For the first time in 3.5 years, I raced on a track, and in doing so ran my fastest 800, mile, and 3k of the training block. I also broke 30 seconds in a 200 rep for the first time in years this week. ••• Since then, though, I truthfully have felt down. First reflection of my race was positive – improvements are obviously needed, but I knew that going in. The more I let the event settle in my head, the more negative I became. I wasn’t practicing what I preached – I was feeling down and started to question the work I’ve done and have to do. Simply, I overwhelmed myself with worry. ••• Why do I share this? Because sometimes it’s the negative stuff that people need to hear about. We can post fun, happy pictures all day on social media- but it’s not always the full story. We have ups and downs. And that’s ok… and it’s also ok to need help pulling yourself out of those funks. ••• What made me shake the negative vibes? A run outside on a gorgeous day. Hit the East River on a beautifully warm day in NYC and followed that up with a great long run in Central Park this morning. It let me remember why I really am excited. It’s because I love running and every day I’m out there is a day to get better. It’s always tough being at the start of something, but if you never start, you’ll never reach the finish line. Happy running! 💛

A post shared by Mary Cain (@runmarycain) on

RELATED: Mary Cain started the conversation we needed to have

The initiatives Strout listed include:

  • studying how elite training affects female athletes
  • hiring more female coaches
  • creating a new senior-level position to oversee international women’s sports marketing
  • creating a group of pro female athletes to inform and advise the company on concerns specific to its female athletes
  • a new partnership with CrisisTextLine, a confidential, free text message service for people in crisis (in Canada, the service is run by Kids Help Phone)

Strout reports that Cain was invited to participate in the investigation but declined, telling her she perceived a lack of transparency. Regarding the initiatives announced, Cain said she “supports anything that promotes women’s health and opportunities in sports,” but was critical of the decision not to share the results of the investigation publicly, calling it “weak and cowardly.”

View this post on Instagram

Reflecting on this last week I have made big improvements. For the first time in 3.5 years, I raced on a track, and in doing so ran my fastest 800, mile, and 3k of the training block. I also broke 30 seconds in a 200 rep for the first time in years this week. ••• Since then, though, I truthfully have felt down. First reflection of my race was positive – improvements are obviously needed, but I knew that going in. The more I let the event settle in my head, the more negative I became. I wasn’t practicing what I preached – I was feeling down and started to question the work I’ve done and have to do. Simply, I overwhelmed myself with worry. ••• Why do I share this? Because sometimes it’s the negative stuff that people need to hear about. We can post fun, happy pictures all day on social media- but it’s not always the full story. We have ups and downs. And that’s ok… and it’s also ok to need help pulling yourself out of those funks. ••• What made me shake the negative vibes? A run outside on a gorgeous day. Hit the East River on a beautifully warm day in NYC and followed that up with a great long run in Central Park this morning. It let me remember why I really am excited. It’s because I love running and every day I’m out there is a day to get better. It’s always tough being at the start of something, but if you never start, you’ll never reach the finish line. Happy running! 💛

A post shared by Mary Cain (@runmarycain) on

With the NYT video, Cain joined a number of prominent female runners who had begun to criticize the brand for its treatment of female athletes, including Kara Goucher, Allyson Felix and Alysia Montaño.

RELATED: What former NOP runner Mary Cain has planned for 2020

After an absence of more than three years, Cain recently started racing again. She had a disappointing 3,000m race at the Dr. Sander Invitational in New York on the weekend, but acknowledged in a post-race interview that regaining competitiveness will take time and incremental improvement.