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U.S. track star off Worlds team over sponsorship feud

One of this country's top runners will not represent Team USA at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing this month
One of this country's top runners will not re... 02:56

One of the U.S.'s top runners won't represent Team USA at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.

Nick Symmonds qualified, but is off the team because of a dispute over which brand names he would wear, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.

For two years, Symmonds has been training to compete at the world championships. Team USA says it was his decision to not represent his country.

"I'm deeply offended by that. This is not my decision. I want to go to Beijing, I offered countless times to work with them, to find a compromise, but they refused to budge. And this is their decision. They're leaving America's best 800-meter runner at home," Symmonds said.

USA Track and Field is leaving one of its best runners at home because he's refusing to sign a document that mandates athletes wear Nike apparel at all official team competitions and functions. Nike is the official sponsor and pays USA Track and Field an estimated $20 million per year. Symmonds is sponsored by Brooks, a Nike competitor.

"They went as far as to send me a letter saying don't even pack non-Nike, non-branded or non-Team USA gear, which to me suggests that they were trying to do is define an official Team USA event as the moment I left my home here in Seattle to the moment I return," Symmonds said.

His defenders include fellow Olympian Lolo Jones.

In a statement, USA Track and Field said its so-called "statement of conditions ... has been in place for years" and that it only restricts athlete apparel at "competitions, award ceremonies, official team press conferences, and other official team functions."

But this dispute is not just about what runners are wearing, but how much they are paid. A recent analysis by Smith College found USA Track and Field's elite athletes receive about 8 percent of all revenue, compared to at least 50 percent in the NBA and NFL.

"Really, it comes down to dollars and cents," College of Holy Cross professor of economics Victor Matheson said. "U.S. Track is making him honor U.S. track sponsorships rather than the ones that are actually going into Nick's pockets."

Symmonds said even elite runners make only about $20,000 to $30,000 a year, so sponsorships pay the bills. Not competing in Beijing will cost him a potentially hefty bonus from Brooks.

"If this was just about money, I'd sign the contract and I'd go get paid. I'm taking a huge financial loss here," Symmonds said.

And Team USA is losing one of its best.

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