On Wednesday, website LetsRun.com published a University of Oregon Police Department report of an incident on June 25 in a field just west of Hayward Field. It was around 7 p.m., toward the end of the first day of the USA Track and Field national championships, and coach Danny Mackey was sitting with one on his athletes in a medical tent. That’s when Nike Head of Global Marketing John Capriotti grabbed Mackey’s arm and almost ripped him from his seat. After poking Mackey in the chest and asking him to “step outside,” Capriotti then allegedly leaned down, his nose touching Mackey’s ear, and said, “I know what you fuckin’ did. I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you.”

Now forget about what Mackey may or may have not done—we’ll get to that in a moment. Telling someone in anger that you’re going to kill him is really fucking weird. Part of adulthood is learning that it’s never an appropriate response to tell someone you’re going to kill him or her.

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But that’s not allegedly the case with Nike head of global marketing Capriotti. But what did Mackey do?

According to Mackey’s police report, he mentioned Capriotti’s name in a meeting.

Nike has had plenty of black eyes in the last year and a half in regards to its involvement in U.S. track and field, but one of the more recent was begun by a joint story between BBC and ProPublica, which interviewed former athletes and employees of the Nike Oregon Project, a professional track club headed by American distance running legend and noted asshole Alberto Salazar. Those folks—many of whom requested anonymity for fear of repercussions—alleged widespread drug abuses by Salazar and his team. As the story made international news, the AP reported U.S. Anti-Doping had begun to reinterview those former associates. Mackey, a former Nike employee, explains in the police report that Capriotti “eluded [sic] to Mackey being involved in the doping scandal,” i.e. Cap accused Mackey of being one of those who ratted on NOP’s myriad allegations of being big, fat cheaters—and mentioning Cap by name.

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Was Capriotti involved in NOP doping allegations? Well, he hadn’t been so far (only tangentially mentioned in a follow-up article by ProPublica). But thanks to Mackey’s police report and Capriotti’s own big mouth, he is now.

The police report also alleges that Capriotti physically contacted Mackey at least four times, in addition to Cap inviting Mackey to “go outside” at least three times. Mackey listed nine witnesses by name to the altercation.

So what happens to a person paid by Nike that loses his shit at a USATF national championship? If history proves anything, not much.

At the 2014 USATF Track & Field Indoor Championships, at least one person witnessed Salazar being physically restrained so that he wouldn’t make contact with another coach. His punishment? Nothing, as far as USATF announced publicly. In fact, according to USATF records, the organization verified both Salazar and his son’s status as approved coaches within the next two months of the event.

According to the police report, Mackey declined pressing charges, so legal consequences against Capriotti seem unlikely. When LetsRun.com reached out for comment by Capriotti through Nike PR, their request was declined.

But what this incident again illustrates is that Nike’s claws are too far into USA Track and Field to lend the organization any semblance of sponsor impartiality. This was not a quiet incident, yet USATF was seemingly unaware of it, judging by its silence, or if it was, it’s chosen to not comment on an incident that took place behind credentialed boundaries of its largest championship of the year.

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At the time of this writing, the organization had not returned a request for comment on its knowledge of the event and its planned action, if any.

People talk about an easily angered athlete as having “passion”—and I’m all about track having more passion, along with a few more swears. But threatening to kill someone goes beyond passion. It’s proof: proof that in the U.S., track and field has those in it who are above the law. They all work for Nike.

Photo: See-ming Lee/Flickr