Olympic Allyson Felix has revealed that she and Nike have been silent since she asked the sports giant to contractually agree that she would not be financially punished if she did not do her best in the months after she gave birth.
The 33-year-old gold medalist, who is the most decorated female Olympian in the history of athletics, has shared her pregnancy story with the New York Times less than two weeks after the outlet reported that Nike had punished women for decreases in performance while pregnant.
& # 39; I decided to start a family in 2018 knowing that pregnancy & # 39; the kiss of death may be in my industry, as the runner Phoebe Wright said in the Times last week, & # 39; Felix wrote in her opinion piece that was published on Wednesday.
her story: Olympian Allyson Felix has opened up to Nike & # 39; s treatment of her after she welcomed her daughter Camryn in November 2018
No deal: the 33-year-old runner said the company & # 39; refused & # 39; to guarantee contractually that she would not be punished if I did not perform at her best in the months around the birth
The athlete said it was a & # 39; terrifying time & # 39; was for her because she was negotiating an extension of her contract with Nike after it ended in December 2017.
Felix, who welcomed her daughter Camryn in November 2018, explained that she felt the pressure to return to training as soon as possible, despite the fact that she had an emergency for 32 weeks because she suffered from life-threatening pre-eclampsia.
& # 39; Despite all my wins, Nike wanted to pay me 70 percent less than before. If that's what they think I'm worth now, I accept that, & she said. & # 39; What I don't want to accept is the permanent status quo on motherhood.
& # 39; I asked Nike to contractually guarantee that I would not be punished if I did not perform at my best in the months around the birth.
& # 39; I wanted to set a new standard. If I, one of Nike & # 39; s most marketed athletes, couldn't secure these protections, who could?
Nike refused. We have stood still since then. & # 39;
The mother-of-one said the treatment was particularly heartbreaking, because she signed with the brand almost a decade ago after hearing about the Nike-sponsored non-profit Girl effect, which aims to end poverty worldwide by girls in to empower marginalized communities.
Felix noted that she could have signed with another company for more money, but she was influenced by a Nike employee who told her that the company & # 39; believed in women and girls & # 39 ;.
Several professional runners have shared similar stories with the New York Times this month.
Problem: Felix said the treatment was particularly heartbreaking because she was tempted to sign with Nike almost a decade ago after being told that the company & # 39; believed in women & # 39;
Pay cut: Felix said Nike wanted to pay her 70 percent less after she decided to become a mother. She is depicted at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro
Dedicated: The athlete participated in a race in Marseille, France, when she was about three months pregnant in June 2018
Felix said she was inspired to tell about her experience after her former Nike teammates and other Olympic runners Alysia Montaño and Kara Goucher broke their confidentiality agreements with the company to shed light on the treatment of pregnant athletes.
In response to their stories, athletic clothing brands such as Burton, Altra, Nuun and Brooks announced changes to their corporate contracts to protect sponsored female athletes during and after pregnancy.
Nike also said & # 39;it adds language to new contracts for female athletes who will protect their wages during pregnancy, & # 39; Wall Street Journal.
The brand admitted earlier this month that earlier & # 39; performance-based payment discounts & # 39; were included in a statement after The Times published Montaño's opinion.
Montaño drew attention in 2014 to running at the US track and field championships in Sacramento, while she was eight months pregnant with national praise, but she didn't have much choice because of her personal difficulties in keeping money in.
& # 39; Sports take a heavy toll on the human body, and sponsors apply this with free time for injuries. But they rarely offer enough time to have a child, & she wrote in the opinion paper.
In a statement released on May 13, Nike said: "We acknowledge that there was inconsistency in our approach to different sports and in 2018 we standardized our approach in all sports so that no female athlete is financially punished for pregnancy." # 39;
A copy of a 2019 sponsored sports commitment contract with Nike, shared with The Times, contained a clause stating the reduction in remuneration & # 39; for whatever reason & # 39; made possible if specific performance statistics were not met, with no explicit exceptions for pregnancy, childbirth and the period thereafter (called & # 39; maternity & # 39;).
& # 39; Getting pregnant is the kiss of death for a female athlete & # 39 ;, said the former Nike-sponsored runner Phoebe Write, who was with the brand from 2010 to 2016. & # 39; I could never tell Nike if I was pregnant. & # 39;
Question: & # 39; If I, one of Nike & # 39; s most marketed athletes, could not secure these protections, who could? & # 39; she asked. She is pictured at her baby shower
Press "Felix returned to training in January, just a few months after she had an emergency C-section after 32 weeks because she suffered from life-threatening pre-eclampsia
Trying to find a balance: as a new mother, she said she felt the pressure to return to training as quickly as possible
A victory? Less than a week before Felix & # 39; s opinion paper was published, Nike said that & # 39; it adds language to new contracts for female athletes protecting their wages during pregnancy & # 39;
At that time, Nike refused to comment on whether the policy changes had been incorporated into contracts. The company also did not discuss which sports or which athletes were affected by the policy that treated the pregnancy worse than the injury, but admitted that it was generally a problem.
& # 39; Nike is proud to sponsor thousands of female athletes. As usual in our industry, our agreements also include performance-based payment reductions, & thus the statement.
& # 39; Historically, a few female athletes had applied a performance-based reduction. & # 39;
Serena Williams is a new mother who was paid after the birth of the child, but Goucher, who was not pregnant with a risky pregnancy in 2010, was not.
Goucher was already pregnant when she discovered that Nike would not pay her before she started racing again, despite the fact that she had done more than 12 unpaid performances on behalf of the company during that period.
She was forced to continue training just a week after her son was born, because she had dedicated herself to a half-marathon that would come in three months so that she could bring in a salary again.
The athlete not only had to choose between running the 120 mile run she needed to run every week or breastfeeding her son, because her doctor told her that her body couldn't do both, but she also had to choose between collecting her miles in and staying with the newborn when he unexpectedly became seriously ill.
& # 39; I felt like I had to leave him in the hospital, just to go outside and run away, instead of being with him like a normal mother would, & # 39; said Goucher. & # 39; I will never forgive myself. & # 39;
Story: Alysia Montaño drew attention to running in the US track and field championships while she was eight months pregnant in 2014, but she said she didn't have much choice
Difficult to treat: Olympian Kara Goucher (photo) only learned after she was pregnant with her son in 2010 that Nike would not pay her before she started racing again
Difficult decision: Goucher was forced to resume training just one week after her son was born because she had dedicated herself to a half marathon so she could bring in another salary
Words: Nike shared a statement earlier this month that they would no longer punish pregnant athletes financially
She also still suffers from hip injuries after running the Boston Marathon just seven months after delivery.
& # 39; It took me such a huge toll mentally and physically, for myself and for my child, & # 39; said Goucher. & # 39; Returning to the competition so quickly was a bad choice for me. And looking back and knowing that I wasn't the kind of mother I wanted to be – it's heartbreaking. & # 39;
But for Goucher and other mothers who are also pro athletes in sports that are not part of major competitions, most of their income comes from independent contractors deals with brands such as Nike and Asics.
Although many pregnant employees in the US are protected against discriminatory treatment by their employers, these protections do not cover independent contractors such as sponsored athletes.
Such athletes can earn additional prize money for winning individual races; most of them deserve a comfortable life as long as they continue to perform, but they don't really get rich in their abilities, so it's not always an option to save money for longer periods of their daily work.
And if athletic stars like Goucher and Montaño cannot compete due to pregnancy, the most elite can even lose their health insurance provided by the United States Olympic Committee and the American Track & Field.
Both Goucher and Montaño both lost their health insurance because they did not meet the performance requirements when building their family.
& # 39; Some people think that women run pregnant for themselves, & # 39; said Wright. & # 39; That's it sometimes, but it's also because there's a baby to feed. & # 39;
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