Runner Jeanette Wang, finished first for the Ultra tough 84km Women Open during the recent adidas Sundown Marathon. Her prize is a sponsored trip to Berlin Marathon this September. However, adidas, has an unstated condition to the claiming of the prize. She has to sign an adidas sponsorship contract, and use only adidas products on the sponsored trip. Alas. She is currently under Nike sponsored athletes, and cannot sign another sponsorship contract with adidas.

It feels very unfair to the athletes, that the claiming of a prize requires unstated condition. Since the condition was not there in the first place, it should not be enforce post-race. However, thinking back, in sports, is there any ethics left with all the scandals involving drugs? Perhaps, we are having a new kind of scandal, that is not involving sportsman. =)

She thought she had crossed the finish line but the winner of the inaugural adidas Sundown Marathon, Ms Jeanette Wang, has hit a new hurdle.

The 26-year-old Straits Times journalist topped the Women’s Open event two Sundays ago, clocking in at 9hr 14min 36sec in the gruelling 84km run.

But the seasoned athlete is now unable to claim one part of her prize, a sponsored trip to the Berlin Marathon this September.

The reason: adidas, the prize sponsor, wants her to use only its products on the trip, or forfeit the race altogether.

But she is in Nike’s stable of sponsored athletes and is forbidden to endorse other brands.

‘On the one hand, I want to be loyal to Nike, which has been supporting me for the past four years. On the other hand, I did win the race and I feel like I deserve something for it,’ said Ms Wang, who had also topped her age group at the 2006 Standard Chartered Ironman Korea.

Her win also entitles her to a year’s sponsorship contract of adidas products worth $3,000.

A check on the official adidas Sundown Marathon website showed that there were no conditions stating that the winners would go to Berlin only if they signed the adidas sponsorship contract.

Mr Fabian William, the winner of the 82km Men’s Open and who also won a Berlin trip, is already sponsored by adidas.

When asked by The Sunday Times, adidas said that donning its products at the Berlin race came with the sponsored trip. ‘It would be unheard of for an organisation to send an athlete halfway across the world to enter its own premier race with limited race slots, but have its direct competitor benefit in turn,’ said Mr Marcus Chew, the marketing manager for adidas Singapore.

‘I would go as far as saying that we are bending over backwards to accommodate her.’

The company had offered to match the value of Ms Wang’s current sponsorship contract with Nike if she signed with adidas, along with more opportunities to race overseas.

It also offered to custom-make running shoes for her for the Berlin race, said Mr Chew.

Top local marathoner Vivian Tang, 37, ran into a similar fix in 2006.

Following her win at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon that December, adidas had offered her a sponsored trip to the London Marathon on condition of endorsement. But she had to turn it down as she was sponsored by Nike.

Most race prizes come in the form of vouchers or cash, as most top athletes are already sponsored and ‘it would be unfair for an athlete to win a prize and not be able to claim it’, said Ms Tang.

Another veteran marathon runner, Mr Steven Chan, 39, agreed.

‘Singapore already does not have a strong pool of athletes. We shouldn’t have such rigid rules that stop them from taking part in more competitions,’ he said.

Saying that she has no plans to approach the Singapore Sports Council for help, Ms Wang added that she was considering her options and did not rule out ‘walking away from the victory empty-handed’.

She said: ‘There’s more to winning a race than the prize, but a prize shouldn’t be a business deal. It’s a reward for the hard work you put into the race.’

debyong@sph.com.sg

What should Jeanette Wang do? And should race sponsors offer contract sponsorships as prizes? Send your views to suntimes@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 15th June 2008



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