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Mark Parker: Nike chief executive to leave role after Oregon Project shut down

Tom Kershaw
Nike CEO and president Mark Parker is walking away: AP

Nike chief executive Mark Parker will step down from his position next year less than two weeks after the closure of the shoe company’s controversial Oregon Project.

The Oregon Project’s head coach, Alberto Salazar, was banned for four years earlier this month after being found guilty of doping violations by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

Parker had become embroiled in the scandal with emails alleging to show he had been briefed about doping-related tests conducted by Salazar. After the coach’s ban was announced, Parker offered his full backing to Salazar and said the company would support the 61-year-old’s appeal.

Parker will become Nike’s executive chairman and will be replaced by John Donahoe as chief executive – the company’s fourth in its 55-year history.

Nike added that Parker would ”continue to lead the board of directors and work closely with Donahoe and the senior management team”.

In an interview with CNBC, Parker insisted the decision had “absolutely nothing” to do with the Oregan Project or allegations of gender discrimination after The New York Times published opinion articles and videos from female runners saying they risked losing pay if they became pregnant.

He also claimed that Nike had spent “many months” on planning his succession. “This is not something that happens in a number of weeks,” he insisted. ”It’s really unrelated to Oregon Project or any other issues.”

Alberto Salazar has been banned for four years (AP)

On 11 October, Nike released a statement admitting the Salazar situation had become “an unfair burden” on athletes on the elite training programme.

“We made the decision to wind down the Oregon Project to allow the athletes to focus on their training and competition needs,” it read. “We will help all of our athletes in this transition as they choose the coaching set-up that is right for them.”

Parker joined the company in 1979 as a footwear designer and has been CEO since 2006.