Liz McColgan-Nuttall, the retired double Commonwealth gold winning runner, claims she was forced out of her deal with Nike after she revealed she was expecting a baby.
The former track star, 50, made the allegation as she joined sports figures from around the world in criticising the company’s decision to sign up sprinter Justin Gatlin on a lucrative deal.
The US sprinter, who won 100m gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004, has served two doping bans, including a four-year suspension between 2006 and 2010.
In a series of posts of social networking site, Twitter, McColgan-Nuttall made clear her disapproval with Nike’s decision to offer Gatlin a deal and revealed her own experience with the Oregon-headquarted firm, which is one of the leading sponsors in the world of sport.
The former 10,000-metres world champion posted a photograph of Gatlin and Mo Farah, another Nike athlete, and questioned whether the two-time Olympic champion was right to pose with the American, who was signed up by Nike last week.
“Not so nice to see Mo hanging out with new Nike teammate, drug filled Gatlin,” she wrote. “Good one Nike . . . ban for life.” The Dundee-born athlete said that Farah “needs to think about who he hangs out with” and said being in Gatlin’s company “does himself no favours”.
In a further tweet, she was speaking “as a previous world champion who got dropped from Nike for being pregnant.” She added: “Nike sponsor lots of up coming juniors with your cash not drugs.”
McColgan-Nuttall, a former middle-distance and long-distance track and road-running athlete, won Olympic silver at Seoul in 1988. She was also world 10,000-metre champion in 1991, won the New York, London and Tokyo marathons, and took home gold medals from both European and Commonwealth levels.
The mother-of-five was chair of Scottish Athletics from 2003 to 2005 and her first-born daughter, Eilish, has been following in her mother’s running footsteps.
The controversy surrounding Gatlin’s deal comes as his track career is reaching a peak. He is favourite to win the “golden double” at the 2015 world championships in August.
The 33-year-old was previously sponsored by Nike, but has instead been wearing Chinese company Xtep’s clothing since returning from his second ban.
As part of his Nike deal, the sportswear giant has agreed to provide his kit for the next season in the build-up to the world championships in August.
Nike will also provide kit for Tyson Gay, who was dropped by Adidas when he tested positive for a banned substance in 2013.
Athletes who have waded in to criticise Nike for the Gatlin deal include Nike-sponsored marathon runner Paula Radcliffe. On Twitter, she said: “I am very disappointed to hear this news.
“I don’t believe it truly reflects the core values of the Nike that I am proud to represent, nor the integrity and the ideals of the people I work with on a daily basis.”
Other athletes, including double Olympic javelin silver medallist Steve Backley, have also hit out at the move.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS