U.S.A. Track & Field and the Athletes Advisory Committee has just announced a new plan to distribute an additional $9 million in athlete funding over the next five years. In effect, this plan would standardize the bonus and incentive payments that USATF athletes would receive when they represent the US in international competition. This new plan is slated to be “finalized” at the USATF annual meeting this December in Houston.
The $9 million would provide roughly $10,000 annually for each athlete who makes a World Championships or Olympic Teams. The remaining 25 percent will be distributed as medal bonus money for individuals medaling at World Championships or Olympic Games, with $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. (For relays, the number of athletes who run at least one round of that medal-winning team will share equally in the amount of the bonus.)
This is definitely a move in the right direction! Our view is that all athletes should be adequately compensated for the participation on the National team. We would even go one step further and address the athlete sponsorship issue to ensure that sponsorship is not a barrier for participation on the National team and (Read: avoiding the Nick Symmonds situation) recommend that the USATF develop a policy to adequately address the contract restrictions of their athletes.
In sum, we applaud the USATF and hope that endurance athletes continue to be adequately compensated in order for them to continue to be able to follow there dreams of representing their Country in World Championship and Olympic competition.