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Track star hit with breach of contract lawsuit weeks before Olympic trials

With the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro only a few months away, athletes across the nation are now stepping up their training regimens in preparation for the upcoming trials, as their performance there will dictate whether they are part of Team USA.

It goes without saying then that these athletes will want as few distractions as possible in the coming weeks, perhaps retreating to the cloistered atmospheres of training facilities or avoiding much interaction with anyone outside of training partners. As it turns out, one of U.S. track and field's rising stars may not have this luxury after being hit with a breach of contract lawsuit filed by one of the largest shoe conglomerates in the world.

According to reports, middle distance runner Boris Berian was served with papers at a track meet held last Friday night. The underlying federal lawsuit against Berian was filed by none other than his former sponsor Nike.

For those unfamiliar with Berian, 23, he once worked as a fry cook at a fast food restaurant before making global headlines with his impressive performance in the 800-meter dash at the Adidas Grand Prix last June. His second place finish there, trailing only the current world record holder, lead to a contract with Nike.

According to the complaint, this contract expired at the end of 2015, but gave Nike the exclusive right to attempt to extend it during the final 60 days of the year. Furthermore, it stated that in the event no agreement was reached by the end of 2015, Berian could talk to other sponsors, but that during the first 180 days of 2016, Nike would be granted 10 business days to match any offers received from rival shoe companies. Once the 180-day window closed, Berian would be free to sign with whatever company he wished.

The complaint accuses Berian of breaching the contract, as he was competing in New Balance gear in January 2016 despite the fact that Nike claims it had "timely matched" the offer made by New Balance and, in doing so, renewed the existing contract.

While Berian has yet to formally respond to the lawsuit, he is contesting that Nike actually matched the deal offered by New Balance.

Regardless of what transpires, the lawsuit is surely an unwelcome distraction to Berian, who is essentially without a sponsor only weeks away from the Olympic trials in Oregon, which is coincidentally the corporate headquarters of Nike.

Stay tuned for updates.

If you have questions or concerns relating to a potential breach of contract, or have been served with papers regarding an ongoing business dispute, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options.    

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