National Strength & Conditioning Association Sues CrossFit, Claiming Defamation

In an article published on “The Russells” CrossFit subdomain, Russell Berger announced that the National Strength and Conditioning Association had filed suit against himself, Russ Greene, Greg Glassman, and CrossFit Inc. in the San Diego County Superior Court. The suit — which was filed on May 2nd — claims the following complaints:

  1. Trade Libel
  2. Defamation
  3. Unfair Business Practices

Before we go further down the rabbit hole, you can find Berger’s full post here. In it, he describes some context on the claims, including a bit of history on CrossFit and the NSCA’s eventful legal history, as well as nine quotes — from himself, Greene, and Glassman — the NCSA claims provide evidence of libel and defamation damaging to the organization’s business practices.

Berger’s post also includes his responses to each of the nine quotes. He also tweeted about the case, calling it another in a string of “fatal NSCA blunders”:

The case detail can be found on the San Diego Court’s index as case number 37-2016-00014339-CU-DF-CTL. More information — including details on representation, roles, and summons — can be found on the Court’s Register of Actions (ROA) under the above case number.

A bit of background:

In 2014, CrossFit sued the NSCA over a study in the conditioning association’s journal regarding dropout rates for CrossFit training protocols. The original study suggested 9 out of 54 participants didn’t complete the protocol due to injury and/or overuse, which CrossFit disputed.

The October 2015 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published a correction (or erratum) to the original article. The erratum is below:

In reference to Smith, MM, Sommer, AJ, Starkoff, BE, and Devor, ST. CrossFit-based high-intensity power training improves maximal aerobic fitness and body composition. J Strength Cond Res 27(11): 3159 – 3172, 2013, the authors have stated that the reasons for participants not completing follow-up testing, as reported in the article, were provided to the authors by the club owner. The club owner has denied that he provided this information.

After the article was published, 10 of the 11 participants who did not complete the study have provided their reasons for not finishing, with only 2 mentioning injury or health conditions that prevented them from completing follow-up testing.

In light of this information, injury rate should not be considered a factor in this study. This change does not affect the overall conclusion of the article.

We’ll be following along closely with this case, which could potentially have broad implications for the fitness and training industries as we know them.