Mary Cain has filed a $20 million lawsuit against disgraced coach Alberto Salazar ©Getty Images

American former middle-distance runner Mary Cain has reportedly filed a $20 million (£14.7 million/€17.3 million) lawsuit against Alberto Salazar and Nike, accusing the disgraced coach of emotional abuse.

According to The Oregonian newspaper, the 25-year-old has alleged Salazar frequently criticised her weight and forced her to step onto the scales in front of others.

The lawsuit also claims Salazar told Cain her "bottom and breasts were too big" and that she was "too fat", the newspaper reported.

"He prevented Cain from consulting with and relying on her parents, particularly her father, who is a doctor," Cain's lawyer Kristen West McCall told The Oregonian.

McCall also claims Nike deliberately ignored the abuse to protect its own image.

Salazar, serving a four-year ban for "orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct", has previously denied Cain's allegations.

Alberto Salazar is serving a four-year doping ban ©Getty Images
Alberto Salazar is serving a four-year doping ban ©Getty Images

The former head of the now-disbanded Nike Oregon Project (NOP) told The Oregonian in 2019 that he had "never encouraged her, or worse yet, shamed her, to maintain an unhealthy weight".

Salazar’s former assistant turned whistleblower Steve Magness said he had seen the behaviour outlined by Cain, a former member of the NOP who was considered a rising star after qualifying for the 2013 World Championships as a 17-year-old.

An appeal from Salazar against his four-year doping ban was dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in September.

The CAS ruled Salazar had committed three breaches of the World Anti-Doping Code, including possession of banned substance testosterone.

Salazar has also received a lifetime ban from the US Center for SafeSport for sexual and emotional misconduct.