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Nike will not financially penalize sponsored athletes who become pregnant after criticism against the company has mounted in the last few weeks.

By Charlotte Carroll
May 25, 2019

Nike will not financially penalize sponsored athletes who become pregnant after criticism against the company has mounted in the last few weeks, reports Bloomberg and The New York Times.

According to the outlets, the company said it would waive performance-pay reductions for 12 months for athletes "who decide to have a baby" and will add terms that reinforce the policy for female athletes into contracts. Bloomberg first reported on a memo from company vice president Amy Montagne addressed to all Nike employees Friday that announced the changes. 

The move comes after current and former Nike runners spoke out about deciding to have children and the financial penalties they faced by doing so. Six-time Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix revealed in an op-ed with the Times that her contract talks with Nike came to a "standstill" after she asked Nike to guarantee she wouldn't be punished for not performing her best in the months following childbirth. Before Felix wrote her op-ed, runners Alysia Montaño and Kara Goucher spoke to the Times about pregnancy and sponsorship issues. 

The athletes touched on Nike's recent advertising campaign, including the ad titled "Dream Crazier," which highlights female empowerment. Montaño said of the contradiction, "If we want to be an athlete and a mother, well that's just crazy."

Nike issued a statement last week saying it would change its pregnancy policy to include protection in its contract. Other companies, including Altra, Nuun and Brooks, agreed to guarantee contractual support of female athletes through pregnancy moving forward. 

In the Friday memo, Montagne wrote, "This has been a humbling moment."

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