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14 May, 2019 13:45

‘Kiss of death’: Nike admit pregnant athletes penalized by performance-based sponsorship reductions

‘Kiss of death’: Nike admit pregnant athletes penalized by performance-based sponsorship reductions

Sports giant Nike has admitted that the company had reduced sponsorship pay for female athletes who didn’t meet ‘specific performance metrics,’ including those who were pregnant or had returned from maternity leave.

On Monday, Nike responded to allegations made by the US Olympic runner Alysia Montaño who claimed that she was financially penalized by the sponsor due to a decrease in performance when she was competing while pregnant.

Nike is proud to sponsor thousands of female athletes. As is common practice in our industry, our agreements do include performance-based payment reductions,” the statement said.

We recognized that there was inconsistency in our approach across different sports and in 2018 we standardized our approach across all sports so that no female athlete is penalized financially for pregnancy.”

Montano known as the “pregnant runner” drew public attention back in 2014 when she competed in the US Track and Field Championships in Sacramento while eight months pregnant.


In an opinion piece published by the New York Times the athlete said that Nike paused her sponsorship when she informed the company of her pregnancy.

Former runner Phoebe Write, who cooperated with Nike between 2010 and 2016, also accused the corporation of having a discriminatory maternity leave policy, revealing that she was forced to resume training just one week after giving birth to her son.

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Getting pregnant is the kiss of death for a female athlete,” Write said. “There’s no way I’d tell Nike if I were pregnant.”