February 21 2018
Karen Lyons started running to escape hardship–and couldn’t stop.
This is a part of our 15 Most Powerful Women in Running series. Who runs the world? Girls—obviously.
The power of professional athletes is most often associated with physical dominance in sport. While Goucher has the wheels to crush her competition (she’s a two-time Olympian and one of the fastest marathoners in the world), this year she asserted strength in a different arena. After being sidelined by a knee injury that required surgery in January, the Oiselle- and Skechers-sponsored runner planned to spend 2015 out of the spotlight. She would avoid racing and instead focus on rebuilding her training base in preparation for the 2016 Olympic Trials.
However, performance-enhancing drug allegations she made this spring against Nike Oregon Project Coach Alberto Salazar thrust her back to center stage. Goucher explains, “I decided to battle something publicly that personally I’d been battling for a few years.” In a report released by the BBC and ProPublica, Goucher stated that her former coach approved the use of banned substances and encouraged her to take thyroid medication (even after a doctor refused the prescription) in order to drop weight quickly after the birth of her son in 2010.
In the wake of the report, Goucher received both backlash and support. “It’s been really emotional. I’ve received some hateful letters,” she says. “But also a lot of personal letters thanking me.” Since then, other athletes have come forward to share their stories and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has taken more aggressive action to investigate the practices of athletes, coaches and teams—largely thanks to Goucher’s statements.
The Colorado resident has faith in—and a tremendous amount of love for—her sport. With her sights currently focused on making the U.S. team in Rio and continuing to be an advocate for clean competition and fair treatment of athletes, Goucher says her greater passion lies in “getting more women involved in the sport— and having it change their lives in the way it’s changed mine.”
“I feel powerful when I’m around other women and everyone is supporting one another, when our voices are being heard and we are making a difference.”