Symmonds' stance raises thorny old issue

Mon Aug 10, 2015 7:04pm EDT
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By Andrew Both

(Reuters) - Runner Nick Symmonds’ refusal to sign a “statement of conditions” required to be on the U.S. team for this month’s world championships reignited the debate over where team sponsor obligations start and end.

Symmonds, silver medalist in the 800 meters at the 2013 world championships, on Monday was left off the United States team for the Aug. 22-30 world athletics championships in Beijing.

To be included, athletes must agree to wear official team apparel to all team functions. Nike is the official apparel supplier to USA Track & Field (USATF), while Symmonds is sponsored by rival company Brooks.

Athletes can wear their preferred shoe brand.

Symmonds, who won the 800m at the U.S. trials in June, said on Twitter late Sunday that he would present proof that USATF was “stealing millions of dollars from the athletes” and “getting rich” off their hard work.

On Monday, he cited what he said was an analysis by an economist that showed that eight percent of expected USATF gross revenue in 2015 would be distributed to athletes.

USATF issued a statement on Monday that said, in part, that the federation's conditions “and its requirements are common in professional, Olympic and national team sports, both domestically and internationally.”

It added that it “annually invests more than 50 percent of our total revenue directly in athlete support, and that amount is growing.”   Continued...