Nike amends contract conditions for pregnant athletes after star athletes speaks out

2017 Golden Goggle Awards

Nike has announced its intention to amend the contracts of their sponsored athletes to support athletes through pregnancy, following pressure spearheaded by Allyson Felix.

Six-time Olympic champion, Allyson Felix, made headlines earlier this year when she called out Nike for their lack of support following her pregnancy last year.

Felix gave birth to her first child, Camryn, in November. She joined other female athletes, including Alysia Montano and Kara Goucher in speaking out about their contracts with Nike, which did not guarantee the protection as pregnant athletes and new mothers. 

Felix had been informed by Nike that after becoming a mother, she would be paid 70% less than before giving birth.

Going public with the news in May, Felix wrote a piece for the New York Times detailing the new conditions of her post-pregnancy contract with Nike.

"I asked Nike to contractually guarantee that I wouldn't be punished if I didn't perform at my best in the months surrounding childbirth.
"I wanted to set a new standard. If I, one of Nike's most widely marketed athletes, couldn't secure these protections, who could? Nike declined," she wrote.

However, Nike is setting a new precedent for sponsored athletes, and Felix was the athlete to reveal new contract conditions for pregnant athletes on her Instagram page. The new contracts stipulate that Nike will "not apply any performance-related reduction" for 18 months if an athlete becomes pregnant.

In a statement to Sports Illustrated, Nike said, "Female athletes and their representatives will begin receiving written confirmation reaffirming Nike's official pregnancy policy for elite athletes.

"In addition to our 2018 policy standardising our approach across all sports to ensure no female athlete is adversely impacted financially for pregnancy, the policy has now been expanded to cover 18 months."

The new contract details that "If ATHLETE becomes pregnant, NIKE may not apply any performance-related reductions (if any) for a consecutive period of 18 months, beginning eight months prior to ATHLETE's due date. During such period NIKE may not apply any right of termination (if any) as a result of ATHLETE not competing due to pregnancy."

Allyson Felix ended her affiliation with Nike as a result of their lack of support for her as a new mother returning to the sport she has long dominated. She signed a new multi-year sponsorship deal earlier this year with Gap-owned women's apparel company Athleta, a deal which assured her of compensation during maternity.

Felix qualified earlier this month for the IAAF World Championships in Doha, less than a year after giving birth. The 33-year-old will compete in the 4x400m relay event and plans to compete in her fifth Olympics at Tokyo 2020.

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