The above page is from the Alberto Salazar section of the RunnerProgram.com, aka Runners Universe. The site has an amazing collection of the lifeworks of some of our sport's finest coaches, in all disciplines. And they are offered for a price.
We at RunBlogRun understand a for profit site on running. However, we have to pay writers, photographers and the like, for our articles. We were alerted to the fact that some coaches were not paid nor did they know their content was on the site. Upon further investigation, we have been hard pressed to find any coaches who have been paid for their work.
We have reached out to the RunnerProgram.com and asked for comment, and there has been no response. We are now asking our readers to read this article and pass it around. Please understand that we have no arguement with the articles on the site. We do feel that coaches' lifework should not be posted without permission, and in case of for profit sites like RunnerProgram.com, coaches should be compensated for the sale of their thoughts and information.
Special thanks to Jeff Benjamin for his investigation that follows.
Updated March 14, 2017 with updated final two paragraphs.
"You know, we're all not into this for the money, that's for damn sure!"
So said legendary York High School XC coach Joe Newton to this writer a few years ago. Sure, Usain Bolt has earned over 7 figures, but that, like his stellar performances, are an anomaly. Indeed, whether one is a running/ track& field athlete or coach (or writer!), the pursuit of profit, in my experience, has never been the paramount motivation as to why one would embark on the challenges of our Sport.
Perhaps that is why when something looks or smells funny in our arena, the questioning of one's integrity seems to erupt out like a volcano, soon to be followed by a chorus of others joining in. Frauds, cheats, and scammers are without a doubt frowned upon more by our group than perhaps by followers of any other sport. Even the whiff or hint of this kind of breach leads to a bright line being shined upon the accused, which then begins the debate over whether or not an injustice has taken place. One just has to look at the outing of marathon cheats to see the wrath which is reserved for them to understand our passions.
Not only does the site have training programs of almost all the upper echelon athletes and Coaches, but they also claim to sell their respective training programs as well. Alongside a Facebook page belonging to Johnny L Walker, the site has great pics, some videos and some current event athletics news. There also seems to be a lifetime membership plan to access all the programs for $199.
However it's the for-sale-training programs which have brought about controversy. In conversations with some of those whose programs are for sale, not one of these athletes/coaches have:
1) Been contacted by Runner Universe to ask permission to sell their programs
2) Been compensated in any way for the sale of their programs
Although this writer has not purchased or seen these programs, the fact that athletes and coaches such as Sara Hall, Sir John Walker, Alberto Salazar (whose program appears to be the best selling one out of all of them) and Peter Thompson have informed me that:
A) They've never heard of Runners Universe or Johnny L Walker.
B) They've never been contacted in any way by them about the sale of their respective programs.
In fact, upon being notified about the sale of Ryan Hall's training program, the agent for Hall reached out to Runners Universe, who subsequently took the training program down.
800 meter great Nick Symmonds followed the same route as the Halls did. "This website does not have my permission to sell this info. They are violating my copyright...I have emailed them and asked them to take it down immediately."
Former Marathon World Record Holder Steve Jones, whose program is for sale as well, said, "No I haven't seen this before...Sounds like a winner formula. I Wonder how many they have sold?"
From Legendary Boston/ NYC Marathon Champion Bill Rodgers--"It's probably a compilation of thoughts and words that have been copied from a book I did, or perhaps from interviews. No, I never got any commissions and I never heard of this company before!"
Also from Coach Sue Humphrey--"I have not given permission for anyone to use my training program. I have not received any compensation."
This writer has also have received confirmation that Margo Jennings, Jack Daniels, Norman Poole, Renato Canova and Matt Fitzgerald were not aware either of their programs being sold on this site and are looking at further action. When one does go about looking into a potential controversy like this, the writer should also attempt to get BOTH sides of the story. One would hope to give ALL parties mentioned a fair shot to air their perspectives on this possible controversy, especially since this article has been so one sided so far. Over the past couple of days, this writer has attempted to reach out to Runner Universe via email as well as messaging Johnny L Walker on Facebook. They list their base of operations as either Los Angeles and Queensland, depending upon where one looks. As of this writing, I have not received ANY statement from either party, except for the following generic reply from the website below:
"In the end I believe all of us Sport aficionados would absolutely love to look over this great treasure trove of invaluable information. As a matter of fact, quite a lot of those being exploited have been very accommodating in offering their philosophies and training gratis for many years. Yet, I believe many would agree that there is a way to go about doing it properly. After all, many of those mentioned above including the other athletes and coaches on the site have work which they labored over for years and probably to no great financial windfall of their own. Unfortunately according to a couple of my author pals in the business of publishing these kinds of things do happen often in the internet and is considered the norm by some out there. But, is it fair?"
From Larry Eder--"We are warning our readers about Runner Universe, which sells the lifework of many of the famous coaches in our sport. We have not found any coaches who 1) were contacted on posting their information, 2) were compensated for sales of information. We asked the site to comment and they have not. Great coaches and athletes work their entire lives building their legacies. If they want to give info out for free, good for them, but please be careful with this one!" #runneruniverse,