Nike admits pregnant athletes faced performance pay cut

Nike says it has reviewed its performance pay after several female athletes revealed they suffered reductions through pregnancy and early maternity.

US runners Alysia Montano, Phoebe Wright and Kara Goucher told the New York Times that Nike failed to take pregnancy and maternity into account as part of their sponsorship deals.

Montano, once in the top three female runners in the world, hit the headlines when she ran at eight months’ pregnant with her first child.

In a video recorded for New York Times, she revealed she faced changes to her pay from Nike if she did not return quickly after giving birth.

She also claimed she was forced to train with a brace around her stomach to support her broken abdominal muscles.

Alysia Montano became known as the pregnant runner
Image: Alysia Montano became known as the pregnant runner

Meanwhile, Goucher told the paper that the situation reached its worst point when her son got dangerously ill.

She said she had to choose between staying with him and training for a half marathon which she had been forced to sign up for in order to keep her sponsorship.

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In a statement, Nike said it was “common practice in our industry” that “agreements do include performance-based payment reductions”.

“Historically, a few female athletes had performance-based reductions applied,” the sports company added.

“We recognised that there was an inconsistency in our approach across different sports and in 2018 we standardised our approach across all sports so that no female athlete is penalised financially for pregnancy.”

Goucher said she found it hard to come back when her son was ill
Image: Kara Goucher said she found it hard to come back when her son was ill

Montano, 33, turned Nike’s Dream Crazier tagline against them, claiming maternity leave was “a step too crazy” for the firm.

A 2019 Nike contract for track and field athletes, seen by the New York Times, stated the sports company had the right to reduce pay “for any reason” if performance related goals were not met.

It did not include any exceptions for childbirth, maternity or pregnancy.

Source: SKY NEWS

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