NEW YORK CITY (NBC) – Mary Cain was the youngest track athlete to ever make a world championship team at 17-years-old.
She signed with Nike’s Oregon Project and is now saying that the elite program’s training was abusive and focused on her weight.
Her physical and mental health were destroyed she claims, at the hands of Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar, who contacted the Cain family while she was in high school to say he wanted to coach the prodigy.
Cain says she was told to lose weight — thinner, and thinner, and thinner — in order to get better, even to the point of taking birth control pills and diuretics.
Cain told the TODAY show, “Before this point, I was still in the mindset that they were in. Even though I left the program, the emotional damage had run so deep that it took me so long to get out of the bad habits with eating that I had developed and honestly just redevelop a new self-worth and the thing is, I couldn’t have sat in front of a camera and told my story and told it with power before today, because the person right here, right now, knows this is not okay, knows this has to change and knows that I will make sure it does because I don’t want any young girl going through what I went through. And the thing is, before this I couldn’t have said it with that honesty. I couldn’t have said it with that power and I wouldn’t have held to that promise.”
You can read more at NBC Sports’ website.