USA Track and Field (USATF) announced on Monday that it will increase its financial support of athletes by $9 million over five years ($1.8 million per year), beginning in 2016, according to a press release. The agreement between USATF and USATF’s Athletes Advisory Committee (AAC) would increase bonuses paid to national team members for the IAAF World Outdoor Championships and Olympic Games and bonus money for medalists in those events.
“We have been working with athletes for more than two years to try to come up with a funding model,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said in the release. “To be able to finalize the basic structure in a unanimous fashion speaks to the shared commitment of everyone involved.”
“Seems like a step in the right direction,” Nick Symmonds, seven-time national track champion, told Outside on Monday. “I’d still like to see them get to 50 percent revenue sharing with the athlete.”
Paul Doyle, an agent who represents world record decathlete Ashton Eaton, among others, agreed with Symmonds that the announcement was a positive step, but he also has reservations. “I want to have more of an understanding of where this $1.8 million figure came from,” he told Outside. “Is that really fair? I don’t know if there was any discussion of if this was the correct amount of money to be allocated.”
Adam Nelson, a board member with the nonprofit Track and Field Athletes Association, told Outside that his group had hoped to work with the AAC as a third-party consultant but did not participate. Instead, he said, USATF has made a deal with its own committee rather consulting an independent athletes group. “This [agreement] steers away from a definition of ‘professional’ and still allows USATF to pit themselves as a more valuable asset for potential sponsors,” Nelson told Outside.