In Affiliation, Rest Day/Theory

March 17, 2015

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CrossFit 614 owner Mitch Potterf sues Ohio State University on the strength of sworn statements from participants who say they were not injured in a study.

It started out as a great opportunity for Mitch Potterf. It was a chance for his athletes at CrossFit 614 in Columbus, Ohio, to participate in a scientific study at one of the most well-known research universities in the country.

More than three years later, Potterf finds himself suing Ohio State University for academic misconduct.

The study, with lab work at OSU and training at CrossFit 614 in 2012, was published the following year in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). It kept tabs on athletes’ blood, VO2 max and body composition.

The title of the study—“CrossFit-based High-intensity Power Training Improves Maximal Aerobic Fitness and Body Composition”—nicely summed up the findings of the research. In short, do CrossFit and your VO2 max and body composition will improve.

The problem with the study comes when you dig a little deeper. After analyzing the findings in detail, authors Steven T. Devor, Michael M. Smith, Allan J. Sommer and Brooke E. Starkoff also included a section about injuries allegedly related to CrossFit.

“Of the 11 subjects who dropped out of the training program, two cited time concerns with the remaining nine subjects (16% of total recruited subjects) citing overuse or injury for failing to complete the program and finish follow up testing,” the study stated.

Potterf has one major problem with this statement: He and his lawyer, Ken Donchatz, have collected sworn statements from every single athlete who didn't test out of the study, and in each case the athlete attested he or she did not get injured. Potterf believes the study has not only damaged his livelihood as a trainer but also other affiliate owners around the world and the CrossFit brand.

Donchatz wants two things for his client: retraction of the study because of academic misconduct and compensation for the damage the study has done to Potterf.

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1 Comment on “A Study in Academic Misconduct?”


wrote …

Since the beginning, Crossfit has been in the crosshairs of conventional fitness. It is right of them to protect their brand and their affiliates. But at some point, to protect their longevity in the industry, some measure of quality control must be implemented by Crossfit HQ to maintain safety standards. THAT is the best way to protect the brand. Crossfit "coaching" is currently a jungle for the consumer to navigate through.

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