There was a time when you could get kicked off your Olympic team for getting support from sponsors, an affront to the idealism of amateurism in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, you can get kicked off your team for not accepting support from sponsors.
Nick Symmonds is a USA Track and Field 800-meter champion, but will not be invited to the IAAF Championships in Beijing because he does not want to wear Nike gear outside of competitions, award ceremonies and press conferences. Apparently the sponsorship contract the USTF has with Nike includes “other official team functions.”
Symmonds is personally sponsored by Brooks, and believes he should be able to wear Brooks gear when not competing, accepting awards or talking with the press. “I deserve the right to know what an official team function is,” Symmonds said in a New York Times article. “They haven’t defined that yet.” the article continues to quote Symmonds as saying “the federation apparently wants him to wear Nike gear for the world championships from the time he leaves his apartment in Seattle. That’s absurd.”
According to Runner’s World, Symmonds had to sign a document saying he would submit to USATF requirements, but he had no intention of signing the document. “Of course I will be in Beijing,” he said. “I’ve done everything required to be a member of the team and they’ve already selected me. I’m still training and proceeding as if I’m going to compete.”
Unfortunately, the answer to the question is, “Nike’s your daddy.” At least for now.