Saturday 17 March 2018

800m star Nick Symmonds axed from US team for World Championships over sponsor row

Nick Symmonds
Nick Symmonds

Garry O'Sullivan

On Monday morning, fans of US 800m Champion, Nick Symmonds, - along with Nick himself - woke up to the news that he was removed from the US Team travelling to Beijing for the World Athletics Championships, taking place later this month.

Nick convincingly secured his place on the team with a dominant win at the US Championships in Hayward Field.

Alas, this selection was repealed by USATF; amid doping scandals you'd be forgiven for assuming he was omitted for a possible claim... However, Nick is clean but he refused to sign up to USATF's restrictive contract.

In the "Statement of Conditions", Nick was instructed that he would be obliged, while in Beijing, to wear only Nike USA apparel at all "official team functions". Given that Nick is sponsored by a rivaling running apparel company, Brooks, he immediately wanted to find out what these functions were as he may be breaching his own sponsorship contract by not endorsing them at the pinnacle of the athletics annual calendar.

The talented half-miler missed out in the 2014 athletics season due to an injury and made a full recovery on the penultimate day of the US Athletics Championships. Symmonds, having realised the training he had missed, made an astute decision to remain in Seattle training for the summer - forgoing sought after prize money on the European circuit in an attempt to return to the World Championships and improve on his silver medal from Moscow in 2011.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Nick claims that he liaised with USATF in attempt to bring clarity to the contractual obligations of the athlete in "official team functions".

“I made several offers to help USATF draft a new Statement of Conditions, one that protects their obligations as well as athletes' rights, but USATF chose instead to ignore my offers and leave me at home.”

While legal experts suggest Nick may have a legitimate case to defer the decision - it appears that his long awaited opportunity to win a medal for the country he is proud to represent has had the last sprint finish - America has turned its back on its gifted and courageous citizen.

Amongst the indecent and deceitful cheaters running at the Championships, a pure and honest athlete has been left at home. As it stands, Nick will be watching the latter from his couch in Seattle.

“O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

Online Editors

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