The USATF released its 2018 tax forms earlier this week, and CEO Max Siegel‘s salary is not sitting well with many American track athletes. Siegel took home $1.2 million in salary that year, and he was guaranteed an additional $3 million in “other compensation,” which he will receive over the course of the next four years. This comes in a sport where only the best athletes can make liveable wages, and those are mainly thanks to sponsorships and endorsements.
USATF finally posted their 2018 tax return and I have approximately 3 million questions… pic.twitter.com/mZzbXs4Ep4
— Pole Vault Power (@polevaultpower) April 22, 2020
According to the USATF tax returns, Siegel’s base salary for 2018 was $611,014 (up from $596,130 in 2017), with a bonus of $500,000 and an extra $146,160 of “other reportable compensation,” for a total of $1,257,174. On top of that salary and bonus, he receives $3,027,250 in “retirement and other deferred compensation,” a category for which, in 2017, he received $26,500—over $3 million dollars less than in 2018. With an additional $10,226 in nontaxable benefits, Siegel’s 2018 tax return worked out to $4,294,650.
At the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, the total prize purse across all events was US$7,530,000 ($10,580,440 Canadian). Athletes who won gold received $60,000, silver earned $30,000 and bronze $20,000. The top eight athletes in each event were paid, with eighth place receiving $4,000.
Only the fastest and best athletes in track and field can survive on their earnings from competition. Those same athletes are the ones receiving money from big sponsors, leaving the other athletes to fight for whatever money’s left. American ultrarunning champion Camille Herron responded to the USATF story on Twitter, saying, “I have five world [medals] and paid out of pocket expenses every [race]. No athlete should pay to represent our country.”
Another American runner, Lauren Fleshman (who is also a USATF board member), took to Twitter to voice her displeasure with the news of the USATF’s tax returns, imploring the public to “demand that [the] USATF approach things differently next time around.”
I stand by my statement. Call me a communist, whatever. But if you are outraged, the CEO himself is not the right target. Direct your frustration at those people and systems that facilitated this. Pay attention. Demand that USATF approach things differently next time around. https://t.co/wTvBB4eu11
— Lauren Fleshman (@laurenfleshman) April 23, 2020
The news of the tax returns comes just a week after Sports Business Daily reported that the USATF laid off seven employees, which is 11 per cent its modest workforce of 65 employees. It was also announced that Siegel is taking a 20 per cent pay cut “amid a pandemic-related revenue decline.”