Nick Symmonds refuses to sign USATF contract for Worlds
USA 800m Olympian Nick Symmonds is making a stand regarding a poorly worded athlete agreement that lacks clarity regarding the athlete requirements for wearing the official team uniform.
Symmonds is refusing to sign USA Track & Field’s mandatory “athlete statement of conditions,” and it’s put his chance to run in the World Championships in jeopardy.
Symmonds objects to a provision that requires him to wear official team gear at all team functions.
What is or is not a team function is not defined. Symmonds says it often is interpreted to mean any appearance in public, even to eat breakfast, while on a trip as a member of Team USA.
“Unless they are willing to sit down with me and renegotiate the terms, rewrite it so it actually is not ambiguous, we know that we’re not going to be bullied and we know what our responsibilities are, I can’t sign it,” Symmonds said Friday in the Throwdown’s pre-meet news conference.
Once again, USA Track & Field has found a way to upstage the sport just as it steps into the global spotlight.
The latest in a recent series of USATF/Nike controversies had me wondering what Bowerman would think of the Nike/USATF contract demands.
Nike has a complicated relationship with American track and field. The company is the best thing to happen to the U.S. sport in the last 40 years, and too often also the worst.
This much is clear now: USATF has not only sold out to Nike, but sold the souls of generations of American athletes as well.
One of the biggest issues regarding the athlete contracts that USA athletes are required to sign before representing the USATF is that the athletes are not in a powerful position. Their is little athlete advocacy and with reserve athletes waiting in the wings it is easy for USATF to stand their ground, even if they are wrong, or at least, as in this situation, too arrogant to acknowledge that Symmonds has a very good point regarding the lack of clarity in the agreement.
When the only athletes publicly supporting Nick Symmonds are those who are not on the World Champs team suggests that athletes are afraid to jeopardise their own selections – and as soon as a national federation has that kind of power over athletes it is a slippery slope to completely ignoring athletes rights and interests.
…to date none of the athletes who did make the team have been willing to join Symmonds in his crusade, understandably afraid of jeopardizing their perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent their country at the World Championships.
National 800-meter champion Nick Symmonds has been left off the U.S.A. Track & Field roster headed to this month’s IAAF World Championships after refusing to sign a mandatory athlete statement of conditions that requires him to wear Nike gear for all team functions.
Symmonds was informed of his omission on Sunday night. USATF is expected to officially announce the full world championship roster on Monday.
Now the USATF admits that they were never going to enforce the rules listed in their letter to athletes, that the letter was written without the knowledge of the executive members and that they were always going to be flexible and allow athletes to wear their own sponsors gear where appropriate!!!
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