Nike announced this week that it would rename the Alberto Salazar building on its Beaverton, Oregon, campus following the permanent coaching ban issued in July by the U.S. Center for SafeSport.
“The nature of the allegations and the finding of a lifetime ban make it appropriate to change the name of the building,” according to a statement from Nike, emailed to Women’s Running on Tuesday.
The news was first reported by Willamette Week.
Salazar had been temporarily suspended by SafeSport in February 2020 after Mary Cain, a former teen track star who trained under Salazar from 2013 to 2015, said in a New York Times op-ed that she had experienced bullying and abuse from the former Nike Oregon Project coach. Cain, now 25, said Salazar had weighed her in front of teammates and publicly shamed her about her weight on several occasions—a claim corroborated by those who witnessed it at a track meet and by some of her former teammates. Ultimately Cain suffered depression, suicidal thoughts, stress fractures, and three years of amenorrhea.
On July 26, the center updated its disciplinary database from “temporarily ineligible” to “permanent ineligibility,” meaning he can no longer coach U.S.A. Track & Field athletes. The decision is subject to appeal by Salazar, but a spokesperson from SafeSport was unable to comment on the case’s status. His ban is for sexual and emotional misconduct.
Nike will rename the building the Next%, after its running shoes. It’s the third time it has stripped a name off a campus building. The Lance Armstrong Fitness Center and the Joe Paterno Child Development Center were both renamed after scandals—Armstrong for his U.S. Anti-Doping ban and Paterno for his role in the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse case at Penn State.
The U.S. Center for SafeSport is an independent nonprofit organization based in Denver, Colorado, created in 2017 and designated by the U.S. Congress to respond to reports of sexual misconduct within the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic sports. It is federally authorized under the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act and also has responsibility to develop policies to prevent emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of athletes of all ages participating in Olympic sports at all levels.
The center does not release details of the cases or decisions, but the decision comes after the organization’s own investigation.
“The Center does not comment on matters to protect the integrity of the process,” a media relations representative from SafeSport said in an email to Women’s Running.
If Salazar has appealed the decision, the process goes into arbitration. Until then, the sanction is enforced and will remain unless an arbitrator reverses it under an appeal.
In an email to Women’s Running, Nike said: “Alberto is no longer a contracted coach and we shuttered the Oregon project almost two years ago.”
Cain’s allegations were corroborated by former members of the now-defunct Oregon Project, and others came forward with similar experiences, including 2008 Olympian Amy Yoder Begley, who was a member of the group from 2007 until 2011. She said Salazar dismissed her from the team because she appeared too heavy (scans of her lean muscle and body fat ratio at that time showed she was fitter than ever, she said).
Salazar is also serving a four-year doping violations ban for trafficking testosterone and tampering with the doping control process — he denied the charges and has appealed the decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. After Cain’s new allegations came to light in 2019, Salazar also denied those, though he told the Oregonian, “I may have made comments that were callous or insensitive over the course of years of helping my athletes through hard training.”
On July 1, New York Road Runners announced that it has removed Salazar from the NYRR Hall of Fame. Salazar won the New York City marathon three times in the early 1980s.
“In examining members of the NYRR Hall of Fame, the organization takes into consideration inductees’ contributions, conduct and influence on the sport, as well as their ties to the organization’s mission and values,” NYRR officials said in a written statement. “As part of this process, it has been decided that Salazar does not meet the organization’s ethical standards. The serious, credible statements of Salazar’s conduct of abuse and harassment of athletes as well as the investigation and ban for doping violations, necessitated a removal.”