Track Star Who Criticized Nike Pregnancy Policy Inks New Athletic Deal

After publicly speaking out against Nike’s pregnancy policy, Alysia Montaño has a new athletic deal.

The 33-year-old runner, five months pregnant with her third child, inked a deal with a New Zealand-based athletic brand, Cadenshae.

In a May New York Times op-ed, Montaño called attention to a discrepancy in the way Nike and other activewear companies write their contracts for female athletes, alleging that athletes are paid less if they’re unable to compete for various reasons, including pregnancy and the postpartum period.

Montaño has ended two athletic contracts based on what she saw as unfair maternity coverage, one with Nike in 2013 and a second with Asics in 2016. She said she risked major pay cuts during and after pregnancies with her two older children, daughter Linnea, 5, and son Aster, 2.

“Cadenshae’s sponsorship finally allows me to focus on being a mother and not be penalized for it; this is the way it should be for all women,” Montaño said in a release.   “This partnership gives me the resources I need to speak up and hopefully make a change for the next generation.”
Alysia Montaño
Alysia Montaño competing in an 800-meter race.
CREDIT: Courtesy

Other athletes, including Kara Goucher and Allyson Felix, have joined Montaño in critiquing Nike’s maternity policy. Prior to the public criticism, the Beaverton, Ore.-based brand said it changed its policies in 2018 to prevent financial penalties in case of pregnancy.

In August, Nike announced that it had further revised contracts to include more protections for pregnant athletes. The update includes an 18-month period, starting eight months prior to a woman’s due date, during which performance-related reductions cannot be applied.

Like Montaño, Felix has left Nike amid criticism of its pregnancy policies. The Olympian, who wrote a New York Times op-ed criticizing Nike shortly after Montaño’s, moved to Athleta in July.

Montaño is currently taking a break from running, but she plans to return “when the time is right.”

“Unlike before, I don’t have a sponsor who is putting extreme pressure on me to perform in a certain time frame,” the athlete explained. “For now, I’m going to stoke a few fires.”

Alysia Montaño
Alysia Montaño with daughter Linnea and son Aster.
CREDIT: Courtesy

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