Nike Oregon Project

Nike Oregon Project

Nike's Oregon Project is a group created by athletic shoe company Nike in 2001 to promote American long distance running, using air thinning technology.[1] The runners live and train in Portland, Oregon near Nike's headquarters.[1] Some of the runners in this group live in a specially designed house where filters are used to remove oxygen from the air to simulate that the athlete is living at high elevation. Numerous studies[2] have shown that living at altitude causes the athlete to develop more red blood cells, increasing athletic performance. In addition to this, special software is used to monitor electrodes attached to the athletes, determining what condition they are in and how far or fast they can train.[3]



Nike's Oregon Project was created by Nike Vice President Tom Clarke after reportedly being disgusted at the lacklustre performance of American athletes in long distance events since the early 1980s when Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar won the New York City Marathon three consecutive times from 1980-1982.


The health of coach and project director Alberto Salazar has been in question since he suffered a heart attack at Nike's Beaverton campus on June 30, 2007. From that time, Salazar has been implanted with a defibrillator, and he has planned to take a more limited role with Nike Oregon Project. In June 2008, Salazar chose his tentative successor as head of the Oregon Project, hiring cross country coach Jerry Schumacher away from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[4] In turn, Schumacher has brought his top distance protégé, Matt Tegenkamp, with him to join the program along with Chris Solinsky and UW–Madison Freshman turned pro Evan Jager.[5]


In 2002, the Oregon Project came under scrutiny from the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which formed a think tank to discuss the ethics of the high altitude house. The Agency's Senior Managing Director, Larry Bowers said, "The argument for altitude rooms is that they make up for those athletes that can't live high. What they don't take into account is that people living high don't get the benefits of training low." Alberto Salazar was confident the Anti-Doping Agency would ultimately approve the altitude house, saying that it's no different from other legal scientific advances like heart rate monitors and sports drinks.[3]

In 2006, the subject was revisited more thoroughly by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which claimed that it could be equivalent to blood doping and therefore they should be banned; however, on September 16, 2006, Dick Pound of the WADA announced that "...the overwhelming consensus of our health, medicine and research committees – was that, at this time, it is not appropriate to do so."[6] No explanation was given as to how WADA would have enforced a ban.

The Oregon Project has also been criticized by college track coaches for recruiting Galen Rupp directly out of high school to go live at the Oregon house and forgo attending University of Oregon for his first year.[1]


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