When Olympic gold medalist and 2017 100m world champion Tori Bowie arrived at the Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista, California, on Wednesday to resume training for the 2019 season after the holidays, she said she was told by staff that she owed $6,000 and would not be allowed on the premises if she did not pay.
In a phone call with FloTrack on Thursday, Bowie said she has no clue as to what the $6,000 debt was for, stating, “We didn’t even discuss money when I previously moved in.”
According to Bowie, when she rebuffed the debt, security personnel ordered her to pack up her belongings immediately.
“I’m getting my things, and I closed the door to my room to get my things, and they were like, ‘Oh, yeah, leave the door open. We need to watch you,’” Bowie said. “Treating me like a criminal. They basically sat there and watched me pack my things up and made me leave the premises right away.”
Soooo supposedly I cant train at the Olympic Training Center anymore because I haven’t paid $6000 that I didn’t even know I owed??♀️?— Tori Bowie (@toribowie) January 3, 2019
As of Thursday, Bowie was still staying at a hotel.
While Bowie feels like she was blindsided by the staff when asked to quickly pack up and leave on Wednesday, the sprinter acknowledged she was contacted over the holidays by the USATF Director of High Performance Programs, Duffy Mahoney, who said she needed to move out of her residence at the Elite Athlete Training Center upon returning to Chula Vista.
When she first moved to California in June, Bowie’s residency at the training center was initially supposed to last three months. But she said her coach, Al Joyner, told her he set up another program that would extend her stay for a year.
Now, Bowie thinks those plans fell through at some point, though she doesn’t know why, and said she only learned she didn’t have a place to stay when contacted by Mahoney over the holidays.
Even so, Bowie said she agreed to move out of her residence when she received the call from Mahoney, who assured her she would still have full access to the training facilities going forward. However, Bowie said this is no longer the case.
“Then, as soon as I pull up at the training facility yesterday, it was something totally different,” she said. “So that’s why I’m so upset, because it was something totally different than what he told me over the break.”
In the wake of the ordeal on Wednesday, Bowie’s training situation and support team for 2019—a season in which she hopes to defend her 100m world title from 2017—are both in limbo. While Bowie said Joyner has been a good coach for her and she believes in him fully, she also said her frustrations regarding the recent developments at the training center are likely to result in her looking for a new coach.
Additionally, Bowie expressed displeasure with her management team at ICON Management, which she said has not supported her to her liking in this situation and in another previous instance. As of Thursday, Bowie said she had not been in contact with her agent, Kimberly Holland, about the issues at the Elite Athlete Training Center.
“I haven’t really discussed this because I’m not sure how they even allowed me to get treated this way. So, I’m very disappointed,” Bowie said. “I never speak up for myself. I usually just let things go and I bite my tongue, and I’m like, ‘OK, it will work out.’”
At least part of Bowie’s frustrations with her management team stem from an altercation that Bowie said occurred in February 2018 while she was a member of the Pure Athletics team in Clermont, Florida. In that situation, Bowie says she and former teammate and Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo were involved in a physical altercation that developed from a disagreement the two sprinters had during a training session.
Although Bowie said the dispute resulted in her bleeding from the head, she said she did not feel adequately supported by her management team afterwards. Frustrated with its response to that situation and to the one on Wednesday in Chula Vista, Bowie says she is in the process of seeking new management.
Bowie also said she and Miller-Uibo were ordered to separately see psychologists in the wake of the incident. According to Bowie, the group members in Clermont were advised not to tell anyone about the altercation, or else they would be asked to leave the team.
A few months after the dispute in May, shortly after tearing her quad at the 2018 Prefontaine Classic, Bowie left the Florida-based training group. She said she is still on good terms with Pure Athletics head coach Lance Brauman, but she left to distance herself from the issues in February and seek a new environment where she could focus on her rehabilitation from the injury.
In June, she moved out to the Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista.
“After I tore my quad, I figured I just wanted to be at the [Elite Athlete Training Center] because I knew they were going to have lots of doctors and food—you know, everything I need to get better,” she said. “That’s why I moved out here. It wasn’t really because of the situation, but the situation did affect my move, too.”
Now that she is apparently no longer able to train at the Olympic Training Center, Bowie said her immediate focus is finding a new facility and a coach to guide her workouts. As to why she, one of the fastest women in the world, was forcibly asked to leave, Bowie is still searching for answers.
“I’m not even looking for any sympathy—I’m just, like, confused. I’m just trying to find out the situation right away,” she said.
FloTrack reached out to USATF, Duffy Mahoney, Al Joyner and Bowie’s agent, Kimberly Holland, for interviews, and we are still waiting to hear back from each of them. We will update the story if we hear from them.