Reigning U.S. 800m champion Nick Symmonds, a two-time Olympian and silver medalist at the 2013 IAAF World Championships, will not be allowed to compete at the world championships in Beijing later this month after refusing to sign a mandatory statement of conditions by noon on Sunday.
“I just received word from @usatf that I have been left off the #Beijing2015 team. Proud to have stood my ground and fought another battle for athletes’ rights. A huge thank you to the media and fans for all your support. Tomorrow I will present proof that @USATF is stealing millions of dollars from the athletes, getting rich off the hard work of #TeamUSA,” the 6-time national champion said in a series of Tweets on Sunday night.
Clayton Murphy, the fourth-place finisher at the U.S. Championships in June, was listed on the World Championships roster released Monday by USATF. He will replace Symmonds on the team.
The USATF released a statement on Monday saying, “We respect Nick’s decision not to represent the United States at the IAAF World Championships. The Statement of Conditions is part of USATF’s governance documents, and its requirements are common in professional, Olympic and National Team sports, both domestically and internationally. It has been in place for years, and athletes and agents are familiar with the provisions of the document, which include requirements pertaining to athlete conduct as goodwill ambassadors for the United States, proper handling of the American flag, wearing the designated Team uniform at official Team functions, attendance at official Team practices, meetings and other events, commitment to train and report fit to compete, and following doping rules.
“The only restriction USATF places on athletes’ apparel or appearance at any time is when they represent the United States in National Team competitions, award ceremonies, official Team press conferences, and other official Team functions tied to these National Team events. USATF places no restrictions on athlete footwear, eyewear or watches. As part of USATF’s bylaws, the Statement of Conditions must be signed by all athletes who compete for Team USA, and it cannot be unilaterally changed or waived by any USATF officer.
“USATF has been in active and regular discussions with athlete leadership for more than a year about the definition, benefits and obligations of professional athletes in the sport. Our dialog with Nick and his representatives over the last week has added to the discussion.”
Symmonds contends the contract mandated by USA Track & Field violates the conditions of his individual sponsorship agreement with Brooks Running, the Seattle-based footwear and apparel company Symmonds signed with in January 2014. The aforementioned contract states that U.S. athletes competing in Beijing must wear Nike-branded apparel—USA Track & Field’s main sponsor—at official team functions, which include competitions, awards ceremonies and news conferences, as well as “other official team functions”—a vague distinction that Symmonds takes issue with, claiming it violates his rights as an athlete by not allowing him to represent his individual sponsorship agreement.
Last week, Symmonds threatened to sue USATF if he was kept off the world championship team.