Nike renames Alberto Salazar building after lifetime ban

Nike confirmed on Tuesday that it renamed the Alberto Salazar building on its Beaverton, Oregon campus, whose namesake was the famous ru...


Nike confirmed on Tuesday that it renamed the Alberto Salazar building on its Beaverton, Oregon campus, whose namesake was the famous running trainer who was kicked out of the sport for sexual and emotional misconduct. The change is an astonishing and perhaps complete ending to the relationship between Nike and Salazar, who have been closely linked for almost four decades.

The last straw appears to have been a decision last month by the US Center for SafeSport that banned Salazar from sport for life. The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee established the center in 2017 to protect athletes from sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Salazar can appeal the decision.

“This change follows SafeSport’s decision to permanently ban Alberto from coaching,” a Nike spokesperson said in a statement. “The nature of the allegations and the conclusion of a lifetime ban make it appropriate to change the name of the building.”

The building will now be named Next%, after one of Nike’s running shoes. The news of the name change was first reported by Willamette Week.

by Nike Beaverton Campus has a number of buildings named after some of the most famous athletes who have worn his swoosh, such as Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. Salazar was one of the first winners, in the 1990s, which suited his long and important association with Nike.

In the 1980s, Salazar ran for Athletics West, a Nike-sponsored running team, and won the New York Marathon three times and the Boston Marathon once. He worked in Nike’s marketing department in the early 1990s and was the Nike-funded trainer of the Oregon Project running group for almost 20 years.

Salazar is also close to Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike and chairman emeritus of its board of directors. “Almost every step I’ve taken has been supported, in one way or another, by Phil Knight and his vision embodied by Nike,” Salazar wrote in his 2012 autobiography.

This is the third time in a decade that Nike has withdrawn the name of a building after serious mischief. The Joe Paterno Child Development Center was renamed after the role of longtime Penn State football coach in the The Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal became known, and the Lance Armstrong Fitness Center was renamed after the United States Anti-Doping Agency discovered that Armstrong had taken banned substances throughout his cycling career.

However, Nike’s breakup with Salazar was not inevitable and when he first clashed with a sports organization, Nike stood firmly behind him.

In 2019, an arbitration panel imposed a four year ban against Salazar for violating various anti-doping regulations. Throughout Usada’s investigation that led to the ban, Nike paid the attorneys used by Salazar and many of his runners who were questioned, and the company also said it would fund its appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“A four-year suspension for someone who has acted in good faith is a mistake,” wrote Mark Parker, then managing director of Nike at the time. Salazar’s appeal should be tried soon.

Soon after, however, came the allegations of abuse and mistreatment.

SafeSport did not elaborate on why Salazar was banned except to say it was for sexual and emotional misconduct. In January 2020, the organization temporarily prohibited Salazar to participate in athletics after a number of female runners who previously trained under him, including Mary Cain, Amy Yoder Begley and Kara Goucher, described what they said were years of psychological and verbal abuse at Salazar’s part.

They described that Salazar regularly shamed them for their weight in front of their teammates, and Cain said that she was “the victim of an abusive system, a violent man”. Soon after, Nike employees marched in protest during a re-inauguration of the Alberto Salazar building, which was being renovated.

Salazar did not respond directly to the SafeSport suspension, but said he neither encouraged nor shamed Cain to maintain an unhealthy weight, although he admitted that he may have “done insensitive or insensitive comments “.

Over the past two years, Nike has slowly moved away from Salazar, a split that the building’s renaming apparently makes permanent.

The Oregon project was closed and Parker retired as general manager of the company. (Nike said the retirement was unrelated to Salazar’s suspension.) Many of Nike’s top athletic executives have left the company.

And when Salazar was kicked out of SafeSport last month, the often pugilist in his defense Nike simply shrugged. In a three sentence statement, he noted that “Alberto is no longer a contract coach”.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Nike renames Alberto Salazar building after lifetime ban
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