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Mark Parker: Nike boss to leave role after Oregon Project is closed down

Mark Parker
Mark Parker has backed banned Oregon coach Alberto Salazar

Nike has announced chief executive Mark Parker will step down from the role next year, just weeks after the company’s Oregon Project closed down.

Parker sent an internal memo calling the Salazar situation a “distraction” for Nike Oregon Project (NOP) athletes.

Salazar’s ban followed a four-year investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) and a two-year court battle behind closed doors.

The 61-year-old American said he will appeal against the ruling, which Nike has said it will support.

Nike also stressed the Usada findings that performance-enhancing drugs had not been used on or by NOP athletes.

The NOP, based in Beaverton, Oregon, was established in 2001 and was the home of British four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah between 2011 and 2017.


Dan Roan, BBC sports editor

This is seismic news in the world of sports business. Last year, Nike said Parker would extend his four-decade-long spell at the company beyond 2020. Now he is to step down, just three weeks after his friend – coach Alberto Salazar – was banned for doping violations.

Nike has not suggested Parker’s decision is linked to the scandal, but it has caused them and their chief executive significant reputational damage. Parker was implicated in the US Anti-Doping Agency case against Salazar for being aware of a testosterone experiment conducted on Nike premises, which has since led to the closure of the Nike Oregon Project training centre.

Parker had said he did not believe the testosterone experiment was breaking any rules, and had backed Salazar in the wake of the scandal, saying Nike would support the coach’s appeal. It will now be interesting to see if his replacement John Donahoe feels the same way.

Parker is no stranger to controversy. In 2018, Nike had to overhaul its leadership team in the wake of allegations of gender discrimination and it has faced scrutiny over its contract policy towards pregnant athletes that it sponsors.

He has also presided over a period when Nike has sought to expand not only its global sales, but also its cultural influence through a series of powerful and often highly contentious ad campaigns linked to the company’s superstar athletes, such as Serena Williams and Colin Kaepernick.

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