Mary Cain has been silent for many years. Out of fear, out of shame. But after the sensational doping ban against controversial athletics coach Alberto Salazar and the end of the Nike Oregon Project (NOP), the former "miracle runner" dared to go public. And what the former junior world champion over 3000m in the "New York Times" reported, draws a frightening picture of the elite running team.
"I was the victim of abuse, a system and a man," said Cain, who joined the NOP in 2013 at the age of 17. She was asked to significantly reduce her weight. She thereby developed the Red S syndrome, which led to the loss of her period for three years and a total of five fractures. In the end, she even thought about suicide.
Salazar rejects all allegations
Salazar was banned for four years for violating anti-doping rules on October 1st. A little later, Nike hired the NOP, however, continues to support the sporting goods manufacturer Salazar in its fight against the verdict.
Also the German World Cup third Konstanze Klosterhalfen had trained since the end of 2018 in the US. According to own data, however, not with Salazar, but with his assistant coach Pete Julian. With this and with six other former NOP athletes, she apparently wants to prepare for the Olympics.
The disgraced Salazar rejected all allegations. Rather, he said that even in April, Cain had visited the project to be resumed. Nike announced its own investigation that they would listen to former athletes of the Oregon Project, the company said – but Cain accused to speak out only now.
"He was like a father to me"
Cain felt encouraged to speak openly only by blocking Salazar. "After the doping report, I suddenly felt freed, which helped me to understand that this system is not okay," she said. The ambitions to return to the NOP, they did not deny – but made her emotional dependence on Salazar responsible.
"For many years, the only thing I wanted was recognition from Alberto, I still loved him, he was like a father to me, more like a god," Cain said, "I told Alberto that I would be back with him If we allow people to break us, then we need their recognition more than anything else. "
"You had the biggest ass at the start line"
Several former teammates and ex-coach Steve Magness support Cain's statements. Olympian Amy Yoder Begley said she was knocked out of the NOP in 2011 after finishing sixth at the US Championships with the words "you had the biggest ass on the line".
Former World Cup runner-up Kara Goucher asked Nike to talk to her during the investigation. "I have stories that support all of Mary's allegations, and much more," she said. She spoke of "mental manipulation," the program showed features of a sect: "And I was a member."
Magness, one of the main witnesses in the USDA anti-doping agency USADA investigation against Salazar, said his boss was "obsessed with weight". The incidents were "the norm" and part of the "culture".
For the former main sponsor Nike, the project is becoming more and more of a public relations disaster. USA Today, one of the nation's largest-circulation newspapers, said that Nikes credibility was "in ruins." Once the company was famous for its innovations and new ways, now Nike has become the "Russia of sports equipment".