This afternoon, Run Gum, the "performance gum" company co-founded by professional runner Nick Symmonds, filed suit against USA Track and Field (USATF) and the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) citing antitrust violations. The suit was filed in the United States District Court of Oregon.
The suit claims that the two organizations unfairly restrict sponsorship opportunities to a limited number of apparel manufacturers. According to the IAAF guidelines, athletes are only allowed to wear logos of approved apparel manufacturers at the Olympic Trials. In a statement by the company, Run Gum says that they too want to "sponsor athletes at the Trials in return for logo exposure on the athlete's competition attire, subject to the same limitations on logo placement, quantity, and size..." (Symmonds is sponsored by Brooks; Run Gum sponsors athletes such as middle distance runners Will Leer and Kyle Merber.)
Currently, Symmonds told Outside this morning, his company can sponsor an athlete, but that individual is barred from wearing a Run Gum logo at the Trials. "This damages companies like Run Gum and hurts the athletes' abilities to get a fair value for advertising space they own, or from creating relationships with potential sponsors."
This is Symmonds's fourth public fight against USATF. Last summer, the 32-year-old runner refused to sign a statement of conditions in advance of the Beijing World Championships that would have required him to wear team gear exclusively. As a result, Symmonds was left off the national team but gained national attention for himself and his sponsors.
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