money1In 1964, there were rumors of athletes getting cash for wearing a certain company’s shoes. And the athletes from the US would also express disbelief at the financial support the athletes from the USSR received. But on the whole, only amateurs were allowed at the Olympic Games.

At the IAAF World Championships, now taking place in Beijing, tens of thousands of dollars are at stake. According to this article from the blog, Around the Rings, gold medalists take home $60,000, while those for silver and bronze receive payments of $30,000 and $20,000 respectively. An athlete who finishes as low as eighth picks up $4,000 for his or her efforts.

There are also financial rewards for team competitors.

Nick SymmondsSeems like a decent chunk of change to run around on a track. But only a handful of world-class athletes make the big bucks. Nick Symmonds won’t even be in Beijing as he is protesting the demands of the USA Track and Field organization that requires him, he feels to put

Nick Symmonds

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