Nike-Sponsored Russian Track & Field Athletes Under Investigation For Doping

Russia Track & Field
Russian track and field athletes Mariya Savinova (left) and Ekaterina Poistogova (right) at the 2012 London Olympics.
Getty Images.

Today a report from the World Anti-Doping Agency revealed that there was widespread doping among Russian track and field athletes. The report detailed what is apparently a state-sponsored doping program that allowed for what WADA former president Dick Pound called a “deeply rooted culture of cheating at all levels.”

At the London Olympics in 2012, Russian runners Mariya Savinova and Ekaterina Poistogova both won medals—and both are now among those accused of cheating. The report said that it was not only the athletes involved but also Russian anti-doping officials, who are accused of taking bribes to hide test results and get rid of incriminating evidence.

For the 2012 games, Nike debuted new gear for athletes including Savinova. At the time, Valentin Balakhnichev, President of the Russian Track and Field Federation said in a Nike statement that the team was “pleased to have Nike as a partner, supplying our team with innovative footwear and apparel to help unlock their potential and proudly represent their country.”

Savinova won the gold medal in the 800m race and Poistogova took the bronze.

Now, it’s questionable whether Russia will even be allowed to compete in the upcoming 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. It’s unclear whether Nike was planning to sponsor the Russian team again, but no doubt they are likely watching this closely.

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