In 2012, Mary Cain set the US High School record in the 1500m at the World Junior Championships running 4:11. Later that year, she got a call from Alberto Salazar who invited her to come train with the Nike Oregon Project (NOP). She was 16 years old. After joining the NOP, she had initial success that belied her age including a remarkable run in 2014 when she won the 1500m at the US Indoor Championships, finished 2nd to Jenny Simpson at the US Outdoor Championships, and then capped an amazing year winning the 3000m at the World Junior Championships. From there, her experience took a dark and heartbreaking turn that would ultimately cause her to leave the NOP for reasons that only recently have been made public. On November 7th, Mary came forward to share her story of weight shaming and emotional abuse during her time with Salazar and the NOP in this NY Times video op-ed.
Kara and Shanna lead this powerful interview with Mary as she gives more details about her time with Alberto Salazar and the NOP. She talks about that initial phone call from Salazar and her subsequent decision to join the Nike Oregon Project. She tells the story about when Salazar first discussed her weight with her right after she won the 3000m at the World Junior Championships. From there, she details how her weight became Salazar's near-constant obsession, leading her to feel like something was wrong with her. Isolated and ashamed, she discusses how workouts and races became increasingly difficult as she struggled to meet the unrealistic expectations put on her and her body. She talks about how no one reached out or stood up for her until she finally made the decision to tell her parents about her struggles. From there, you will hear about the tension between her misdirected love for Alberto and the terrible actions against her, along with what ultimately caused her to come forward and what she hopes happens next.
We believe and support Mary Cain and consider her a hero for telling her story. We thank her for shining the spotlight not only on a broken system at Nike, "the global leader of sport", but also on how positions of power in sport can create an unhealthy view on bodyweight and performance.