air max thea mujer Nike Drops Track Coach and Star Amid Scandal
Nike ended its contract with the track coach Trevor Graham yesterday and stepped into the debate over Graham’s role in doping violations by many of his athletes.
The company also said it was suspending its contract with the sprinter Justin Gatlin, one of Graham’s athletes who has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Gatlin was barred from the sport for up to eight years this week by the United States Anti Doping Agency.
A Nike spokesman, Dean Stoyer, did not explain why the company was severing the deal with Graham. “I can’t divulge the details,” Stoyer said. “All I can say is we’re terminating the contract.”
Nike has dropped athletes in the past but normally does so without a public announcement. Moving against a coach is even more unusual.
Jenkins dropped out of the Golden League meet in Brussels, citing a knee injury. The people confirming the test result were granted anonymity because antidoping rules require the results not be revealed until the B sample has been tested.
Graham has had at least seven athletes serve doping suspensions. That prompted the United States Olympic Committee to bar him from its facilities, and several European meets have said they will not invite any athlete training with Graham. Nike added to that momentum with its move.
“There is absolutely no basis for Nike to terminate Trevor’s contract,” Graham’s lawyer, Joseph Zeszotarski, said. “The contract cannot legally be terminated based upon innuendo and suspicion. We have contacted Nike regarding the matter and are awaiting their response. We hope to avoid having to take legal action but will do so if necessary.”
Athletes’ contracts typically have clauses giving sponsors an out if a client fails a doping test, but Stoyer said the move to suspend Gatlin’s contract was “without precedent.”
Gatlin reiterated yesterday that he did not knowingly use any performance enhancing substance and would appeal his ban. “As an athlete it is frustrating for me to be on the sidelines, and have people drawing conclusions that I have cheated,” he said in a statement. “I have put my faith in a system that I believe will clear my name and that I believe will allow me to compete again.”
Until last year, Nike also sponsored Marion Jones, whose A sample from this year’s national championships tested positive for the blood boosting agent EPO. That contract was not renewed, and Jones had been competing without a sponsor.
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After the cyclist Floyd Landis’s positive test, which threatens his Tour de France title, his team sponsor immediately suspended him.
“Brands do not want to be associated with controversy,” said Jeff Chown, president of Davie Brown Talent, which signs celebrity spokesmen for corporations. “Steroids are top of mind in the sports industry right now. Nobody wants to be associated with it right now. I think a company like Nike is trying to build good will with the public by saying, ‘We’re against this.’ ”
Chown said he had seen many companies steer clear of baseball players because of that sport’s problem with performance enhancing drugs.
“There’s too much risk in signing an athlete who might end up in the middle of a steroids scandal,” he said. “The risk is not worth the reward.”
The rash of positive drug tests has done much to tarnish track and field’s image, but the International Olympic Committee president, Jacques Rogge, said yesterday that he was not disturbed.
“It proves that controls are working,” Rogge told The Associated Press at the meet in Brussels. “It is not only Jones and Gatlin but also Floyd Landis and many other cases. They allow us to eliminate the cheats.”