“It’s a big lie! Coach Osbourne refutes claims she was unwilling to negotiate payment terms with Thompson-Herah

By November 16, 2023

 Shanikie Osbourne, the coach at the centre of the dispute with Olympic champion Elaine Thompson Herah's management, strongly refuted statements made by the management regarding her compensation for preparing Thompson Herah for the Olympics in Paris. In a detailed account, Osbourne denied asking for unreasonable levels of compensation and emphasized that she was open to negotiation.

Osbourne was hired in July following Thompson-Herah’s poor performance at the Jamaica national championships where she finished fifth in the 100m finals in 11.06s. The coach’s impact was almost immediate with the five-time Olympic gold medalist producing five consecutive season-bests – 11.00, 10.92, 10.84 and 10.79 for a third-place finish in the season-ending Diamond League final in Eugene, Oregon.

Things seemed to be going well up late September or early October when negotiations began for a new longer-term arrangement between Thompson-Herah and the coach, who helped her resurrect her 2023 season.

However, on Wednesday, Thompson-Herah’s agents Andi Sports Management released a statement informing about the end of the relationship between the athlete and Coach Osbourne.

“The professional separation came about due to a breakdown in negotiations on a compensation package for the services that would be provided by Coach Osbourne,” the agent asserted in the statement. “The package proposed by the former coach, by any measure of what is the norm for such services, was extremely excessive and without any flexibility to negotiate by the other party. Collectively, we had no choice but to seek the services of another coach.”

“What Marvin (Andi Sports Management) put out saying we gave them no room to negotiate is a big lie!” said Osbourne, who spoke with Sportsmax.TV.

Osbourne revealed that the problem started when Thompson-Herah’s husband sent her what she described as a ‘garbage contract’, which she rejected. Elaine then reached out to her in a series of messages and voice notes after which they agreed to sit down for a meeting.

"At the end of her message for a meeting, I said to her, I've read her messages and asked her what time would be available for the meeting, and so I'll meet with her." During the meeting, Osbourne brought up the 15 per cent, and Thompson-Herah did not express an inability to afford it.

“I approached her with the same 15 per cent. She did not say she cannot afford the 15 per cent. She said to me, ‘Okay, since I have all my equipment, I have a gym, I have my equipment and everything, do I still have to say for the 15 percent?’”

“I remember her standing up and she said to me, ‘Okay, you said 15 per cent and that's it.’ And I said yes, that's it and she said ‘okay’ and the meeting finished.

 

Osbourne said she came away from the meeting with the understanding that Thompson-Herah was agreeing with what she was asking. However, just over a week later, the athlete’s husband Derron Herah contacted her.

“I thought everything was okay, Deron messaged me saying we need to sort this out,’ which she said left her perplexed. “I asked him what we needed to sort out and he said we need to sort out payment.

“He asked for a meeting and we met and he came with the same sort of foolishness and I maintained my 15 per cent. I am not charging more than that.”

 During the meeting, Deron Herah repeatedly asked her to provide a figure. "All he's saying to me right is give me a figure. Give me a figure that I’m comfortable with. He can’t make those kinds of contracts with a percentage on it because that will cause them to breach their contract with PUMA.”

She expressed frustration, stating that she didn't need to know the details of Elaine’s contract, only that a fair and honest calculation of her percentage be made.

“I am just asking for a percentage. I explained to them, I do not need to know Elaine’s contract, that is not my concern. What I want is when pay time comes and I go in my account I must see that I get paid. I am not going to sit down and calculate anything.

“All I said to him and I said it to Elaine too, is just be fair, calculate the percentage and pay me, that’s all.”

 

During the national championships in July, it was an acquaintance of the Herahs, Damia Russell, who approached Osbourne about coaching Elaine as he was disappointed with her performance at the national championships. Given the impasse, he attempted to mediate.

Russell, is an assistant track and field coach at the University of New Mexico Highlands and was once a compliance officer at MVP Track Club during 2017-2018 season and for seven years’ prior, was the manager of the University of Technology Men and Women Track and Field teams.

“He normally guides Elaine, he went and spoke to the husband and then he took me to him,” Osbourne said explaining that she decided to leave the negotiations to him to see if they could arrive be a mutually acceptable agreement.

Russell, Osbourne disclosed, said he would assist and even suggested that since the Herahs were fearful of breaching the terms of Elaine’s contract, they could simply have Osbourne sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement.

Russell declined to comment without first speaking to Osbourne when Sportsmax.TV reached out to him on Thursday.

According to Osbourne, Russell spoke with Deron and listened to his concerns and then decided to send Elaine’s husband a figure. “He said to me, what he is going to do is do a calculation of what he believes he would negotiate for Elaine. He did that and sent the figure to him and Deron started to curse and said they were trying to extort him.”

She said she didn’t expect Herah’s reaction. “You ask for a figure and you get a figure, you negotiate, you don’t cuss and quarrel and talk about extortion. So you come and we say ‘X’ and you can’t pay ‘X’ then you pay ‘X’-1, that’s how it should go.”

The coach then discussed her decision to withdraw her services temporarily, stating, "I sent a message to Elaine and said,’ Listen, I have to withdraw my service until this is sorted out."

As it turns out, the athlete and her management decided to end the relationship.

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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