Last year, Oiselle refused to acknowledge the role of paid ambassador Kelly Roberts (KKR), a blogger that was incorrectly listed as an elite athlete after we on the Oiselle Volee had asked the CEO Sally Bergesen & HQ questions about her in official forums/platforms with no answer.
A 1:42 half marathon on the roads for a non-Paralympic woman under 30 years of age can universally be agreed not to be at elite levels of racing. I tweeted that listing KKR as an elite was insulting to real elite athletes. I was dropped from the Oiselle Volee for stating the truth publicly about a teammate whose role was never clarified, which lent itself to her being misrepresented as an elite. Instead of apologizing for the lack of transparency & clarifying that KKR is NOT an elite & acknowledging that KKR is being paid, Sally tweeted that Kelly is a #ProAthlete. Sally, Oiselle & Oiselle’s marketing director Megan Murray continued to disrespect rule-abiding runners & insult race directors by supporting KKR’s repeat cheating as a bandit, claiming it was civil disobedience (try again – women no longer have to bandit races to be equal & able to race alongside men. Megan Murray never issued a public apology for this statement, as Kelly Roberts lied about recently). Kelly had already avoided being banned by NYRR for paying to run a race with someone else’s bib in the past & lacked remorse in doing so. She avoided answering the race directors for her transgressions until it was made public. Kelly has continued to proliferate her following, the same following she was hired by Oiselle for, by perpetuating misrepresentation of herself as a professional athlete in podcast interviews.
All of this came from a company that claimed to be adamantly against cheating, that supports #CleanSport, that empowers women, and that supports elites.
All of the above company claims are lies. If you are adamantly against cheaters in sport (which Oiselle claims to be), you drop a cheat from your team, you don’t continue to pay them and elevate them further, thereby insulting all honest, respectful runners that race within the rules. Here’s what you don’t do if you want to support women: You don’t disempower women to speak their truth by deleting entire threads from team forums & telling them to leave the team if they disagree with you (the Oiselle #SpeakOut shirt is an irony). You don’t discourage respectful discussion by censoring the conversation. And you certainly don’t support your real elites if you elevate a royal selfie taken WHILE racing for time during a (failed) London Marathon Boston qualifier attempt above legitimate OTQ (Olympic Trial Qualifier) elites racing the same weekend at top championships. You don’t heavily promote #SportsBraSquadDay instead of the USATF National Championships last year when your athletes are trying to make a World Championship team (and again this year, see Sally’s tweet here). You don’t pay & reward those that break the rules instead of your honest, #CleanSport elite finalists & semi-finalists at national championships. (Did you know that elite Oiselle-sponsored racewalker Maria Michta-Coffey is a 2x Olympian, a multiple-repeat US National Champion, a Pan-Am medalist, but she is not paid as a professional athlete, nor is she on the professional team?) What about paying the athletes that actually work day in & day out towards their goals without complaining about how hard it is? Hard work is what it takes to achieve goals. What about the athletes that have lost medals and sponsorship potentials because of cheaters in the sport? Kara Goucher had to wait over a decade for her rightfully earned silver medal from Worlds. And she’s the only Oiselle elite professional athlete that openly made a public statement against banditing (she deleted it & re-worded it after, but we all know Kara has stood up for her truth).
Sally, the CEO, demands transparency from Nike, IAAF, USOC, IOC, but doesn’t practice it in her own company business practices regarding paying a confirmed, verifiable cheat. Instead of dropping an athlete that has been confirmed to cheat, as she has called for Nike to do, she continued to pay Kelly Roberts even after she was seen to be a bandit multiple times on courses, proven by her own social media. She even elevated KKR to the title of a #ProAthlete, which respected coach Mario Fraioli commented on. (He did not agree with that title).
Today, I was following the USATF National Championships. Oiselle had sponsored Tori Franklin, a triple jumper with phenomenal breakthroughs this year, including an American Record. She was elevated soon after from the regular #HauteVolee elite team (which KKR was incorrectly listed as being) to the professional listing on the Oiselle team page.
I love this sport. I followed Tori’s journey a bit, followed her Instagram postings, and have always been happy to support women at all levels of racing, in addition to cheering them on loud & clear at the elite level. The only reason I ever initially knew of Oiselle in the first place was because their elite athlete Kate Grace followed me on Twitter. When Kate was announced to no longer be sponsored by Oiselle, I was still on the Volee. I genuinely cried that night. I was so sad that the reason I found Oiselle (or as I liked to state, Oiselle found me) was no longer with the team. I love Nike to death, I was SO incredibly happy for her, her efforts deserved only the best company and the best training groups and the best contracts. She deserved to be paid accordingly. Oiselle’s apparent loss of Grace while racing in non-descript gear at the Dempsey in January 2017 prompted some Volee members (who were NOT dropped from the team) to state that they sure hoped Oiselle was putting as much effort and money into resigning Grace as they were in promoting the #SportsBraSquad.
A tweet popped up on my timeline, and I noticed that Tori was in a Nike kit. I knew that there must have been a change in contract, but only a couple of days ago she had posted to support Oiselle. I started to look on the main Oiselle page, and she was no longer there. Checked on the Oiselle blog, and there it was. Yet another hypocritical Oiselle blog, this time taking aim at the character of a real elite athlete, an American Record holder, Tori Franklin.
I already knew Sally & the Oiselle team weren’t being respectful of Tori’s representation (more on that in another blog), because there are many instances where Oiselle simply does not support women as they misleadingly claim to. Nor do they have any respect for their own elite athletes when tearing a woman down who obviously needed to be paid properly for her achievements. Shouldn’t elite athletes earn their keep by what their bodies can DO as an athlete? Isn’t that what it means to be an elite professional athlete? Making standards? Loving the sport? Competing with integrity?
Directly from the blog:
“Three weeks after accepting the bonus, and one week before the USA championships, Tori let us know that she had received a higher offer from another company, and that the other company wanted her to break her contract with Oiselle and compete for them in the US Championships.”
So an athlete, who is a business and a brand in her own right, made a business decision to accept a bonus offered by her sponsor.
“Tori, unfortunately, made the decision today with her agent to break her contract with Oiselle, go back on her word, and wear another company’s logo at the US Championships.”
But Sally, you never went back on what Oiselle stands for, honest sport, when you paid and supported a cheater, liar, and fraud in Kelly Roberts, right? Oiselle never went back on their word with Lindsey Hein, who, like me, promoted the brand at all times without being a sponsored athlete… right? I should post the emails & texts where you went back on your word, perhaps. What company does this to publicly malign their formerly sponsored athlete on the day of a major competition? As Oiselle claims to care about the person and their story more than just their times & results.
“On one hand we try our hardest to always put the athlete first, but we are also running a business and need the domestic exposure that the USA Championships brings to generate the marketing benefit that allows us to justify the program.”
If you put the athlete first, your elites would be given more than travel expenses, race entries, and a minimal clothing allotment. But you put a cheating blogger first & continued to pay her instead of your honest elites last year. For the social media following & exposure. There is no honor or integrity in keeping a three-peat bandit cheat on your team. But you did it. Who no longer has honor or integrity now?
“Could that move have been made with integrity, honoring Oiselle’s support in addition to the hopes of her new sponsor? Absolutely.”
Attacking someone’s character is nothing new for Sally. Implications were surely made of dropping a Volee member from the team for bullying, without ever reaching out with a phone call. Doing it to an elite athlete the day of a major competition? I believe putting an athlete through that is similar to when Sally denounced Nike for serving Boris Berian papers.
“Are we going to sue Tori for damages or try to bar her from competing? No….life is short, and so is a Track and Field athlete’s career…Still we can’t help cheering for Tori. She was a wonderful athlete to sponsor, and she has a great future. We wish her the best as an athlete.”
Why, Oiselle is the real bully. Trashing an elite athlete’s character the day of a major competition? That certainly is how to cheer for an athlete you claim to care about!
“Even though really there is not a great deal of measurable business benefit to Oiselle unless an athlete has a significant following, we want to sponsor athletes in more niche events: for the good of the sport that we love so much, and to try to help our audience grow to love Track and Field beyond just distance running. It will be more difficult to do that now.”
Does promoting the good of the sport involve KKR breaking the rules of competition & being non-remorseful about it? A sport she doesn’t know the rules for, consistently has ill-informed commentary about supporting women & racing, which leads to 200+ comment threads? Her statements about rejecting women that wear makeup to work out? Her beyond lack of information regarding actual elite racing at the Boston Marathon? Does it involve her consistently talking about how much she hates the sport while representing Oiselle? Her constant disrespect for the police presence and breaking the rules at the Boston Marathon? These were all actions that helped to promote the “good of the sport”? Please. What about the fact that she was disrespectful to her prior sponsors & was unethical to them in order to work with Oiselle? It’s acceptable when the immorality benefits Oiselle. But blaming an athlete like Tori that made a business decision – isn’t that what your blog is about? The business of track & field? Why the double-standard?
“But there will be one or two more blank jerseys competing in non-marquee events at USAs from now on, and you can draw that directly back to today.”
So every future non-paid elite level Haute Volee athlete should blame Tori for… not having the opportunity to be sponsored by Oiselle and Sally, who would pay a disrespectful cheating race participant in KKR who doesn’t have knowledge about proper training regimens over paying the legitimate value of a real elite athlete.
“We are shocked, upset, and frankly just sad.”
I think the saddest part of this whole blog is the fact that Sally & Oiselle would rather pay & support the “integrity” of a bandit cheat in the lying, fraudulent blogger Kelly Roberts and hypocritically comment on the integrity of an athlete that did what was best for their career. It’s interesting how they, like KKR, are now playing the underdog victim. Morality has standards. If I had to look up to a company for having ethical values & integrity, it surely wouldn’t be Sally Bergesen & her team with Oiselle. Tori couldn’t have done any better to bring Oiselle exposure than to break the American Record in their kit & bring a phenomenal year to the national forefront of track & field.
Oh, and you don’t need to wear just a sports bra to love yourself as a runner. You just need to run. Wear what you’re comfortable in, my friends. Covered or not, makeup or no makeup, strong looks different on everyone. And I will run with you, no judgements made. Just don’t cheat at the sport. #RunnersAgainstCheating
One love. Run love. xo