Cites Runners World and FloTrack as Models
April 1, 2015
Steve Soprano, aka employee 1.1 at LetsRun.com, has admitted to taking hundreds of thousands of dollars of kickbacks from Nike in return for not publishing stories that would put Nike in a negative light on the homepage.
Soprano offered to resign from LetsRun.com once the allegations came to light, but the Brojos refused to accept his resignation. LetsRun.com’s Robert Johnson said, “I wondered how he lived off of what we pay him, especially considering he only works part time. Now I realize it wasn’t possible. I like his entrepreneurial spirit.”
Soprano said he got the idea to accept payment from Nike for not publishing negative stories by just observing how running journalism works. “Runners World magazine is so beholden to its advertisers they will never say anything negative about any person, any product, or anything. Flotrack takes it a step further and actually takes payments from shoe companies, does not disclose them, and in return produces videos on the shoe company’s athletes.”
“I realized I had a ton of power in being able to determine what goes on the homepage, and why shouldn’t I leverage that power? Pay to play, baby.” he noted.
Soprano’s upcoming wedding gave him the impetus to take action. One of the few LRCers who makes under $100,000 (or runs over 2:20 in the marathon), he went where the money in the sport lies and approached Nike.
“I knew John Capriotti (Nike Global Director of Athletics) does not give a shit about following rules. FTC guidelines are not his concern. If I could keep a few negative Nike stories from hitting the homepage and bury a few stories LRC might be looking into, then I knew Nike would pay something for that,” said Soprano.
With the recent negative press surrounding the signing of drug cheat Justin Gatlin, the non-signing signing of Tyson Gay, the bizarre l-carnitine issue, the DQ controversy at USA indoors, and even the Nike entertaining drug peddler Mark Block in the VIP suite at the 2012 Olympic Trials, one would think there couldn’t be much LRC hasn’t reported on.
Steve begged to differ, “There’s a ton more stuff (that could be reported on). Take Capriotti himself. The guy was forced to resign at Kansas State for paying athletes. Then what did he do? He went to work at Nike for his old boss, Steve Miller. Now Capriotti’s the one signing athletes like Justin Gatlin. Have you ever read a story on Capriotti? No you have not. You’re welcome.”
Steve wasn’t done, “Who’s Steve Miller? He’s now the vice chair of the USATF Board who signed off on USATF not bidding out the next 24 years of Olympic sponsorship to Nike.”
“Then there was the time Alberto Salazar’s lawyers wanted the identity and IP address of 117 message board posters,” he continued.
“Because the Brojos, my bosses, are identical twins they are used to having 100% agreement on all matters as they always think the same. So I just tell them no one is interested in these stories. A consensus isn’t reached and boom, they never are reported on.”
Steve continued, “Now Nike being so big it is destined to really screw up from time to time, and obviously I can’t kill those stories, but I definitely helped the image of the Nike brand. A million bucks is nothing to Nike and they didn’t even pay me that much.”
Steve says he is well prepared for his upcoming marriage, financially thanks to Nike and mentally to the LRC message boards.
“That thread is the reason why I’m not running a marathon this spring. I’m using that energy for other activities if you ‘catch my drift’ as it seems unfortunately one of my favorite activities will largely be coming to an end; except maybe on obligatory days like my birthday,” said Soprano.