Track star hits out over maternity policy

Sports | 24 May 2019

Olympic track and field star Allyson Felix joined a chorus of recent criticism against Nike, accusing the US sporting goods giant of penalizing female athletes who took time off to have a child.

Felix, the only female track and field athlete to win six Olympic gold medals, wrote in the New York Times she had been offered a vastly reduced contract by Nike since taking time off in 2018 during her pregnancy.

The 33-year-old former 200 meters Olympic champion spoke out after US teammates Alysia Montano and Kara Goucher leveled similar allegations against Nike.

"If we have children, we risk pay cuts from our sponsors during pregnancy and afterward," Felix wrote in the Times. "It's one example of a sports industry where the rules are still mostly made for and by men."

Felix, who gave birth to a girl in December, said she had decided to start a family last year despite anxiety over negotiations concerning the renewal of her Nike sponsorship deal that expired at the end of 2017.

Felix said Nike had offered her a new deal worth 70 percent less than before. "If that's what they think I'm worth now, I accept that," Felix said.

However, Felix said that when she requested guarantees that she would not be penalized if she performed below her best "in the months surrounding childbirth," Nike baulked.


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