Friday 15 November 2019
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businessinsider - 7 days ago

A once-Olympic hopeful says her male running coach at Nike told her to lose so much weight that body started breaking down completely

Middle-distance runner Mary Cain says her male running coaches at Nike were so focused on her losing weight that her body broke down. Now she says there needs to be more education about women s health in the sport.  Cain opened up about her experience with the now-shuttered Nike Oregon Project and its infamous coach, Alberto Salazar, in an op-ed video published by the New York Times on Thursday. She told The Times that she was physically and emotionally abused during her time in the program, so much so that she had suicidal thoughts and started cutting herself.  Cain said she lost so much weight while in the program that she lost her period for three years and broke five bones. She told Insider: Too many teams are led by older men, who seem unable to have an appropriate, supportive conversation about weight and periods with young girls. As a result, we need to educate people on how to have these conversations. Visit Insider s homepage for more stories. A former Nike runner who was once an Olympic hopeful says her male running coaches at Nike were so focused on her losing weight that she stopped her period for three years and broke multiple bones while training with a top program. Now, middle-distance runner Mary Cain, who was the fastest female runner in America when she was just a teenager, says the running world needs to take a different approach to training young girls.  Too many teams are led by older men, who seem unable to have an appropriate, supportive conversation about weight and periods with young girls. As a result, we need to educate people on how to have these conversations, she told Insider. Cain, now 23, opened up about her experience with the now-shuttered Nike Oregon Project and its infamous coach, Alberto Salazar, in an op-ed video published by the New York Times on Thursday. Mary Cain left the Nike Oregon Project in 2016 Cain left the Nike Oregon project in 2016, feeling that she d been physically and emotionally abused by Salazar. The Nike Oregon Project was shut down in October, after the US Anti-Doping Agency banned Salazar from the sport for four years. I fell out of love with running for a long time. I was so hurt that no one that saw me struggling ever reached out or stepped in, she told Insider via email. It s why it wasn t until Alberto s ban that I finally accepted this was wrong and was strong enough to come forward. I feel a level of shame that it took me so long. Cain said Salazar wanted her to keep losing weight — to be thinner, and thinner, and thinner, until she hit his goal weight of 114 pounds. He even told her she should go on birth control or diuretics to shed pounds. Cain said there was no sports psychologist or nutritionist on staff. Cain lost her period for three years and broke five bones after losing weight for the program She said she lost so much weight, that it triggered Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports (RED-S) syndrome, a serious condition caused by consuming too few calories. She lost her period for three years and because her estrogen levels were so depleted, she broke five bones. Cain said she started cutting herself and had suicidal thoughts, but when people witnessed her cutting, no one really did anything or said anything, she told the New York Times. When she admitted she d been cutting to her coach, he dismissed her. When she told her parents, they bought her a flight home and she quit the team. People need to understand the importance of seeking true professional help for issues regarding women s health, rather than giving a coach full reigns on directing a young girl s health, she told Insider, adding that sports training programs should have videos and education on emotional and psychological abuse. This also means having more women coaches. Far too often is there a barrier for entry to women, so let s start bringing in coaches that can empathize. Nike said it will investigate Cain s allegations In a statement provided to Insider, Nike said of Cain s allegations: These are deeply troubling allegations which have not been raised by Mary or her parents before. Mary was seeking to rejoin the Oregon Project and Alberto s team as recently as April of this year and had not raised these concerns as part of that process. We take the allegations extremely seriously and will launch an immediate investigation to hear from former Oregon Project athletes. At Nike, we seek to always put the athlete at the center of everything we do, and these allegations are completely inconsistent with our values. Cain has returned to running since leaving the Nike program. She said in a tweet Friday morning that fear kept many people in the program silent. She said that as recently as this past summer, she considered rejoining the team. I wanted closure, wanted an apology for never helping me when I was cutting, and in my own, sad, never-fully healed heart, wanted Alberto to still take me back. I still loved him. Because when we let people emotionally break us, we crave more than anything their very approval, she said. But I’m not afraid anymore. As recently as this summer, I still thought: “maybe if I rejoin the team, it’ll go back to how it was.” But we all come to face our demons in some way. For me, that was seeing my old team this last spring. — Mary Cain (@runmarycain) November 8, 2019 So when he opened up about his struggles... I felt maybe we were going somewhere. I was cognizant that he pushed my own story of depression and my attempts to purge aside, but I thought his opening up could be a first step. But it wasn’t. — Mary Cain (@runmarycain) November 8, 2019 No more wanting them to like me. No more needing their approval. I could finally look at the facts, read others stories, and face: THIS SYSTEM WAS NOT OK. I stand before you today because I am strong enough, wise enough, and brave enough. Please stand with me. — Mary Cain (@runmarycain) November 8, 2019 Cain urged anyone who feels they re in trouble should talk to friends and family, and seek certified, professional medical help. You are never alone. During this time, I felt that way, but I never really was, she told Insider. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, listen to it. You are braver, smarter, and stronger than you will ever know, and asking for help is always the best path. Read more: Texas Longhorns star Andrew Jones played for first time in 2 years after battle with Leukemia and had the best game of his career A college basketball star who missed back-to-back seasons with a torn ACL hit a full-court buzzer beater in her return Naomi Osaka had to withdraw from the WTA Finals because of an injury and she sounds so bummed A sports reporter called out a Patriots fan who tried to kiss her on air Join the conversation about this story NOW WATCH: Taylor Swift is the world s highest-paid celebrity. Here s how she makes and spends her $360 million.


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