08 November 2019

Former Nike Oregon Project athlete accuses Salazar regime of 'physical and emotional abuse'

Former Nike Oregon Project athlete Mary Cain has accused Alberto Salazar of 'emotionally and physically' abusing her.

The runner claims that Salazar pressured her into losing weight. This meant her periods stopped for three years and she contracted osteoporosis, from which she broke five bones.

The 23-year-old said: “I joined Nike because I wanted to be the best female athlete ever. Instead I was emotionally and physically abused by a system designed by Alberto and endorsed by Nike.” Cain told The New York Times.

Cain, who joined Nike aged 16, says that the all-male staff convinced her “to get better I had to get thinner … and thinner … and thinner”.

The athlete added: "Alberto was constantly trying to get me to lose weight.

“He created an arbitrary number of 114lbs and he would usually weigh me in front of my teammates and publicly shame me if I wasn’t hitting weight. He wanted to give me birth control pills and diuretics to lose weight.

“I felt so scared and alone and I felt so trapped and I started to have suicidal thoughts.

“I started to cut myself. Some people saw me cutting myself. And nobody really did anything or said anything."

Steve Magness, Salazar's former assistant, became a whistleblower for the coach's case. He said: “At one point I was told that I needed to make a female athlete lose weight.

 “When I showed data on her body fat % being low already, I was told: ‘I don’t care what the science says, I know what I see with my eyes. Her butt is too big.’"

Salazar was banned from coaching for four years last month and the Nike Oregon Project has been shut down in light of being found guilty of doping.

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