USA Track & Field refutes allegation by athlete

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 11, 2015 8:19 PM

(Reuters) - USA Track & Field (USATF) on Tuesday released a detailed breakdown of how it spends its money in response to an allegation made by runner Nick Symmonds that the body spends a tiny proportion of its income on athlete support.

Symmonds, who won the 800 meters at the U.S. trials, was excluded from the U.S. team for this month’s world championships in Beijing after refusing to agree to conditions required of team members and said Tuesday he was considering legal action.

Symmonds told Reuters he is meeting a lawyer on Wednesday to "discuss my options," after taking special exception to USTAF rules governing the wearing of team sponsor Nike's apparel.

On Monday, Symmonds cited what he said was an analysis by an economist that showed that eight percent of expected USATF gross revenue in 2015 would be distributed to athletes.

USATF said it spends about half its budget on athlete support and released a detailed breakdown.

“USATF in 2015 anticipates that we will spend roughly 50 percent of our $30 million budget, or more than $15 million, on a combination of cash paid directly to athletes, USATF payment of athlete costs and High Performance Programs that support elite athletes,” the body said in a statement.

“All revenues and expenditures are accounted for and reported.”

Symmonds, who finished second at the 2013 worlds and fifth at the 2012 Olympics, balked at signing USATF's statement of conditions that requires athletes to wear Nike to official functions, claiming the terms are too vague and restrictive.

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Symmonds, who is sponsored by rival company Brooks, said he hopes his legal consultation will shed light on what recourse, if any, he has against USATF.

"I currently do not know what my options are," he said in an email to Reuters on Tuesday.

"I am hoping that my meeting with the lawyer can shed some light on where I can go from here."

Symmonds also dismissed USATF’s financial breakdown.

“Statement says 2015 budget is $30 million. Is USATF's budget somehow shrinking after new $500million dollar deal with @Nike?” he tweeted.

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Larry Fine)