Six female athletes say the University of Oregon’s data-driven approach to training has caused them emotional distress and exposed them to eating disorders.
Five of the six anonymous athletes who showed up to the Oregonian with their stories left the Ducks’ nationally recognized track and field program with remaining eligibility, the newspaper noted in a detailed report released Monday.
The women say the focus on their precise weight and body fat percentages – calculated by high-tech DEXA scans – triggered unhealthy results such as binge eating, body dysmorphia, and even nightmares about the disease. competition at Oregon’s iconic Hayward Field.
Under coach Robert Johnson, the Ducks have won 14 NCAA track and field and cross country championships since joining in 2012. During his tenure, the program has included several blood tests, hydration and high-tech medical imaging, which Johnson says allow the coaching team to design individualized training plans.
“When we get the numbers from our DEXA analyzes, we have an Excel spreadsheet where we can put the numbers in, push a button and that gives us a seed value for a training program. Johnson told the Oregonian. “This allows us to be at the cutting edge of technology and innovative in our approach to performance.
However, not all athletes see it the same way.
A former athlete emailed Oregon assistant athletic director Lisa Peterson last October, voicing his concerns.
“I have seen and experienced an absolutely disgusting amount of eating disorders on the women’s track team,” she wrote, “all because coaches believe body fat percentage is an indicator of performance. key.”
Four of the women interviewed by the newspaper said that if the trainers determined their body fat percentage was too high, they would be forced to do additional cross-training on a stationary bike.
Johnson did not respond to specific claims, but said nutritionists regularly meet with athletes – and sports psychologists are also available – to help answer their questions.
“If these things were to happen, like binge eating, or if they went down this path of unhealthy behaviors, hopefully we would catch it and then give them resources to get better,” Johnson said.