Nick Symmonds left off USA Track & Field team over contract dispute

Two-time Olympian and Willamette University graduate fights for “athletes’ rights.”

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Two-time Olympian and Willamette University graduate will not be part of the USA Track & Field team because of his fight for “athletes’ rights,” Symmonds says.

The fight was sparked by a USATF policy regarding sponsorship rights and “the amount of revenue U.S. track’s governing body shares with athletes,” Ken Goe of the Oregonian writes.

Elaborating in a short phone interview, Symmonds said, “I’ve got a study that shows USATF shares eight percent of its revenue with athletes. The typical industry standard is 25 to 40 percent. Eight percent is absolutely disgraceful.”

Symmonds refused to sign USATF’s mandatory “athlete statement of conditions,” which contains a provision requiring athletes to wear official team apparel at all team functions.


Symmonds promised to “present proof that USATF is stealing millions of dollars from the athletes” today on Twitter.

The statement of conditions says the athlete must wear designated team uniforms at official team functions, which means attire with Nike logos on it, except for shoes, sunglasses and watches.

Symmonds — who was a Nike endorser for seven years before he switched to Brooks in January of last year — says it’s not clear what counts as an official function, and he doesn’t want to compromise his relationship with Brooks.


USATF issued a statement Monday morning:

We respect Nick’s decision not to represent the United States at the IAAF World Championships.

The Statement of Conditions is part of USATF’s governance documents, and its requirements are common in professional, Olympic and National Team sports, both domestically and internationally.  It has been in place for years, and athletes and agents are familiar with the provisions of the document, which include requirements pertaining to athlete conduct as goodwill ambassadors for the United States, proper handling of the American flag, wearing the designated Team uniform at official Team functions, attendance at official Team practices, meetings and other events, commitment to train and report fit to compete, and following doping rules.

The only restriction USATF places on athletes’ apparel or appearance at any time is when they represent the United States in National Team competitions, award ceremonies, official Team press conferences, and other official Team functions tied to these National Team events. USATF places no restrictions on athlete footwear, eyewear or watches. As part of USATF’s bylaws, the Statement of Conditions must be signed by all athletes who compete for Team USA, and it cannot be unilaterally changed or waived by any USATF officer.

USATF has been in active and regular discussions with athlete leadership for more than a year about the definition, benefits and obligations of professional athletes in the sport. Our dialog with Nick and his representatives over the last week has added to the discussion.

USATF annually invests more than 50 percent of our total revenue directly in athlete support, and that amount is growing. As we continue to increase our financial investment in athletes, we appreciate the input and collaboration of athlete leaders and advocates on better defining what it means to be a professional track and field athlete in the United States. We look forward to continuing to expand our programs for athletes, and we hope to see Nick on future National Teams.

Symmonds won seven NCAA Championships for Division III Willamette University. He also earned a silver medal in the 800 meters race at the 2013 World Championships.

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