Friday, November 22, 2019

Another sports story: Mary Cain's claims against Alberto Salazar and Nike

Yesterday I wrote about the possibility of supporting a claim related to a fight on the football field.  Today I want to point out another story related to sports.

If you are a track and field fan, you probably have heard about Alberto Salazar.  Once a famous and successful runner, he then became a famous and successful coach. 

Now he is famous for other reasons.  Bad reasons. Over the years, Salazar became known for operating in a gray area, using unconventional methods and pushing the envelope of what might be allowable under the letter of the doping rules.  In 2015 he was accused of using his son as a guinea pig, and was forced to admit he had been testing a testosterone gel on his sons.

Then, earlier this year, after a multi-year US Anti Doping Agency investigation, Salazar was found guilty of doping violations linked to the Nike Oregon Project training camp. In addition it was determined that Salazar ran experiments with supplements and testosterone and possessed and trafficked a banned substance. As a result, he was suspended for four years.

I had heard that bit of news (and the accusation of using his sons as guinea pigs) back when it was announced, but it was not until a week ago that I had heard the allegations by female athletes against Salazar.

I first heard about this controversy when I saw a New York Times video in which Mary Cain discusses her experience as a female athlete in the Nike system.  You can watch the video below.  She is not the first female athlete to make similar claims.   Kara Goucher claimed she was pressured by Salazar to take thyroid medication not prescribed by her doctor to lose weight gained during her pregnancy in 2010.

I am writing about this today because I just read an excellent short comment on the issue linking it to the same question I asked about the football case:  Could an athlete support a claim under these circumstances.  The comment is written by lawyer (and athlete) Eric Turkewitz.  In it, he addresses the difference between assumption of the risk for participating in a sport and what he calls "coaching malpractice."  It is worth reading.  Go here for the full text.

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