More than shoes: Nike navigates complicated twists in track

Oregon

FILE – A Nike running shoe is seen in the starting block during the IAAF Athletics World Final in Stuttgart, southern Germany, in this Saturday, Sept 9, 2006, file photo. Ever since a track coach named Bill Bowerman tinkered with the idea of pouring rubber into his waffle iron to concoct a better shoe sole for running, Nike and track have grown together. (AP Photo/Daniel Maurer, File)

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Though frequently scrutinized the way any market leader is, Nike’s command over track and field has been tested over the past few years — if not in a pure dollar-for-dollar sense, then certainly in the way it is perceived by its most fervent followers.

Gender equity battles have led to the defection of several high-profile women runners. A sordid doping case involving Nike’s most high-profile coach continues to play out this summer at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Nike’s role in developing new boundary-pushing technology for long-distance running shoes has garnered its share of sideways glances.

All of it leads to a conversation about the company’s long-term strategy as the sport converges on its home in Eugene for Olympic trials.

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