This week, a letter urging the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) to stop promoting dairy products to athletes was printed as a full-page advertisement in three daily newspapers in areas where USOPC training facilities are located. Written by vegan activist and cycling champion Dotsie Bausch—a silver medalist for Team USA in the 2012 London Olympics and founder of nonprofit Switch4Good—the letter points out that despite its duty to support athletes and promote optimal health, USOPC counted the tobacco industry as a sponsor in the 1980s. Now that the organization has cut ties with big tobacco, Bausch urges USOPC to drop dairy as a sponsor to better serve athletes. “As an organization that promises in its bylaws to protect and promote its athletes’ wellbeing and champion the integrity of sport, the USOPC has failed yet again to do what’s right,” Bausch said. “The promotion of unhealthy cow’s milk to Team USA athletes and to the public is unacceptable and another example of the USOPC’s willful disregard for the wellbeing of those it’s entrusted to protect.”
Bausch’s letter follows a similar demand undersigned by nine Olympic and Paralympic medalists sent to the USOPC in October, which the organization dismissed.
Dairy does a body bad
In her letter, Bausch points out the detrimental effects of dairy on health and athletic performance such as constriction of blood vessels and slowing of blood flow to muscles, promotion of inflammation, its limitation of lung function, and its link to breast cancer. Bausch also points out the fact that 65 percent of Americans are lactose intolerant, a percentage that jumps up to 95 percent for BIPOC—putting Black and Brown communities at a higher risk of suffering from the debilitating symptoms brought on by dairy consumption.
This new campaign follows a number of actions by Switch4Good over the years to demand the USOPC cut ties with the dairy industry. In 2018, Switch4Good debuted a commercial starring six Olympians speaking out about the health impacts of dairy products, which aired during the closing ceremonies of the 2018 Olympics. However, it was removed from the air before it reached the West Coast following complaints by the USOPC and the dairy industry.