In a recent interview with the New York Times, Olympic track and field champion Allyson Felix — one of history’s most decorated athletes with nine Olympic medals — broke her silence on the sports industry’s — especially Nike‘s — treatment of female athletes and maternity. “I’ve done a lot of promotion for Nike. They’ve used me in a lot of their stores, in a lot of their campaigns, but I’m also a mother,” she said. “I don’t think I can just sit back quietly anymore.”
When it came to pregnancy, Felix said that the approach within the track and field sport is “silence” and to hide the pregnancy as “It can feel so risky when your livelihood depends on it.” Confirming her comment, Felix lost her contract with Nike in 2017 and has since been in negotiations with the brand, which is largely at a standstill: “Just about a week ago, I asked [Nike] for protection around maternity, and the answer was no… I was already offered 70% less of what I had been paid before,” the Olympian said. “I can take less money, but the one point that I wasn’t willing to budge around was maternity, and not because I’m planning to have another child, but just because it’s the right thing to do.”
The nine-time medal winner spoke out after two of her former Nike teammates Alysia Montaño and Kara Goucher both revealed the stories behind Nike and its treatment of their pregnancies. The report caused significant backlash for the brand, which has now announced that it’ll be changing their approach to pregnancy and female athletes.
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