USATF: Athletes can wear sponsors' gear at World Championships
U.S.A. Track and Field spokeswoman Jill Geer said U.S. athletes can wear their respective sponsors' gear on some occasions at the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Beijing, according to Runner's World.
The news comes days after national 800-meter champion Nick Symmonds was left off the USATF roster headed to this month's IAAF World Championships after refusing to sign a mandatory athlete statement of conditions that requires him to wear Nike gear for all team functions. USATF also sent a letter that asked for the athletes to “pack only Team U.S.A., Nike or nonbranded apparel” on their trip.
Symmonds and other athletes have said that USATF officials have enforced the rule and tell athletes to wear Nike gear on trips. Greer said that USATF's senior management didn't know about the letter until it was distributed to athletes and does not plan on enforcing its rules in Beijing.
“In practice, athletes with conflicting sponsors always pack their personal gear and wear it on personal time, and are allowed by USATF to do so,” Geer told Runner's World. “When Nick (Symmonds) brought the letter to (senior management’s) attention, we clarified that fact to him. That letter as written will not be in future team kits.”
Symmonds confirms that he was aware that the letter would not be enforced, but refused to sign unless "team functions" in the mandatory statement were clarified. (On Friday, USATF still did not clarify what a “team function” consisted of.) USATF said the earliest the statement can be changed is at the December's annual meeting in Houston.
Symmonds is expected to make an announcement on Monday regarding his next move. The seven-time U.S. national champion has spoken to the track and field athlete's association, which has recommended that he files a USOC Section 9 complaint form for “alleged denial of an opportunity to compete.”
In Jan. 2014, Symmonds signed a contract to run for Brooks Running after a seven-year relationship with Nike. Symmonds believes that by signing the statement of conditions, he would violate his contract with Brooks.
USATF has a contract with Nike that runs through 2040.
Symmonds won a silver medal at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow. In 2015, he has run a season's best of 1:44.53 at the U.S.A. Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene.
The IAAF World Championships are set to begin on Aug. 22 in Beijing.
- Christopher Chavez