Athletics-Cain sues Salazar, Nike, citing abuse – reports

FILE PHOTO: Cain celebrates as she wins the women's 1 mile run finals at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Albuquerque
FILE PHOTO: Mary Cain, 16, celebrates as she wins the women's 1 mile run finals at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico March 3, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Draper

October 13, 2021

(Reuters) – Middle-distance runner Mary Cain has sued Alberto Salazar and Nike for $20 million, alleging years of abuse by the coach while training at the company’s now-shuttered athletics program, according to The Oregonian and other media.

Cain joined Salazar in 2013 at the Nike Oregon Project as a teenage prodigy but told the New York Times in 2019 she was pushed to achieve an unhealthy weight in an abusive environment that derailed her career and led her to have suicidal thoughts.

The Oregonian reported that Cain, now 25, filed her lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Monday, claiming that Nike was aware of the abuse she detailed and did not intervene.

In a statement, Nike said it did not comment on ongoing litigation.

“Nike is committed to positively affecting the future of sport for women and girls and we are doing more in this space than ever before,” the statement said.

Cain’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attempts by The Oregonian and Reuters to contact Salazar were unsuccessful. He has previously denied allegations of abuse.

Nike shut down its Nike Oregon Project in 2019 after Salazar was banned for four years by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after he was found guilty of possessing testosterone and tampering with the doping control process.

Salazar, who won three consecutive New York City Marathons from 1980 and has since has coached some of the world’s top long-distance runners, had his suspension upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in September.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport barred the coach permanently from track and field in July, citing sexual and emotional misconduct.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, Additional reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)