British Olympian runner Jo Pavey accused Nike of punishing female athletes for starting a family after she revealed the brand froze her endorsement money when she became pregnant.
Pavey, who represented Britain in the Olympics five times and won gold in the 10,000-meter race at the 2014 European Championships, told Sky News that Nike “immediately paused” her deal when she became pregnant.
“One of the main problems is the target to get the contract back and the timescale. It was the joy of running that kept me going because you think 'what will, be will be' and I was focused on being a mom. But you don't want to feel punished for being pregnant,” Pavey said.
Pavey recalled the sense of disappointment she felt when she became pregnant because her endorsement with Nike was frozen.
“They are promoting women saying 'come on, dream your dreams, you can achieve things,’" she told Sky News. “But then, when they are under circumstances like becoming a mom, then they are signifying that could end their goals and that is definitely the wrong message.”
Nike told Sky News that they have since revised their policy.
“Nike is proud to sponsor thousands of female athletes. As is common practice, our agreements do include contractual performance obligations,” a spokesman for the brand said.
The company added: “Historically, a few female athletes had reduced payments based on failure to meet their contractual performance obligations. We recognized that there was a need for more consistency in our approach and in 2018 we standardized our approach across all sports so that no female athlete is penalized financially for pregnancy.”
Pavey, 45, is no longer sponsored by Nike.