Salazar responds to athlete’s abuse allegations


Former Nike Oregon Project runner Mary Cain accused him of abuse

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Track coach Alberto Salazar is responding to allegations that he abused athletes during his time as head of the Nike Oregon Project.

This comes about a week after former running star Mary Cain claimed he told her to lose weight to get to 114 pounds and repeatedly yelled at her in front of the team.

Read Mary Cain’s opinion in the New York Times

Cain said the abuse led her to cut herself and have suicidal thoughts. She eventually quit the team.

Salazar released a statement to the Oregonian explaining his actions and even apologizing.

Mary Cain
FILE – In this April 29, 2016, file photo, Mary Cain walks off the track after competing in the women’s special 1500-meter run at the Drake Relays athletics meet, in Des Moines, Iowa. Nike will investigate allegations of abuse by runner Mary Cain while she was a member of Alberto Salazar’s training group. Cain joined the disbanded Nike Oregon Project run by Salazar in 2013, soon after competing in the 1,500-meter final at track and field’s world championships when she was 17. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

He admits he may have made insensitive comments during his time with the Nike Oregon Project but he did not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings.

He also defended himself, saying none of his athletes suffered abuse or gender discrimination. He said he felt it was his job at their coach to explain the impact weight has on performance but he didn’t force anyone to lose weight.

He wrote in part:

“On occasion, I may have made comments that were callous or insensitive over the course of years of helping my athletes through hard training. If any athlete was hurt by any comments that I have made, such an effect was entirely unintended, and I am sorry. I do dispute, however, the notion that any athlete suffered any abuse or gender discrimination while running for the Oregon Project.”

Salazar has been banned for four years for breaking anti-doping rules and the Nike Oregon Project has been disbanded.

In response to Cain’s allegations in the New York Times, Nike said it was taking the allegations seriously and would be investigating.

KOIN 6 News has reached out to Nike for comment on Salazar’s response.

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