USATF to face possible lawsuit over Nike dispute with Nick Symmonds

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Double Olympian Nick Symmonds has stated that he will sue USA Track & Field (USATF) if they keep him off the team for the IAAF world championships in Beijing.

The USA team require all athletes selected for the championships to wear Nike-branded kit during all team functions such as photoshoots and interviews.

Symmonds, the 2013 world championships silver medalist from the 800m, has his own contract with personal spnsor Brooks Running, which he joined in January last year following a termination in his personal contract with Nike.

The National champion over the 800m has argued that the national governing body are ‘bullying’ athletes into violating contracts with their personal sponsors, and that “USATF and Nike are just taking way too much of the pie”.

The 800m runner had originally been selected for the team following his win at the American national track & field championships:

Symmonds has been at the forefront of sponsorship controvery before, after auctioning off a small space on his left shoulder for a tattoo which was bought by an American company for $11,000. However, during major competitions such as the national championships he is required to cover up the tattoo with white tape, drawing more attention to it.

USATF spokesperson Jill Geer has said that “60% of the NGB’s elite athletes have individual sponsors that conflict with team deals and that they routinely find a way to resolve the conflicts.

“USATF is a strong advocate for athletes to have as many sources of revenue as possible.

“But the standard for when our team uniform and our team products must be worn is well known, and it’s consistent with the rest of the industry within track and field, internationally and also in other sports”.

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First published on: 9 August, 2015 12:00 am