US Olympic legend and twelve-time medallist Dara Torres (48) is facing a legal battle over the fine print of two of her corporate endorsement deals.
Torres shot to mainstream fame at age 41 as a member of the US Olympic team winning three medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games despite being an average of 10 – 15 years older than her competitors, and a mum. This, coupled with her wholesome model-like looks and public relations skills, has afforded Dara an impressive portfolio of business opportunities post-swimming. Torres, now 48, has endorsed everything from anti-aging creams to ear-phones, she has appeared on various US television networks and even appeared in the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue – the first female elite athlete to do so. Torres’ image screams health and vitality through middle age and she has built herself into a highly marketable commodity. Dara is also an accomplished motivational speaker.In a complaint lodged in federal court in Boston this week, Torres alleges that compression sleeve apparel-maker Tommie Copper Inc. have wrongfully terminated her 5 year and $1.5 million deal to promote their products, due to a supposed breach of an exclusivity clause, which prohibits Dara from promoting any other “sports performance or apparel products, including performance drugs”. The ex-athlete does currently have another endorsement contract with Vestiage Inc. who make a range of anti-aging creams and supplements. Tommie Copper contend that Dara’s endorsement of the Vestiage products, which they consider to be “performance drugs” is a breach of their agreement and are withholding the remaining $900,000 of the contract, plus legal fees. Torres, however argues that these products (which include facial creams, libido boosters for women and testosterone supplements for men) are consumer products and not “performance drugs” at all. Torres also states in her complaint that her relationship with Vestiage Inc. was public knowledge from July 2013 and she didn’t enter into the contract with Tommie Copper Inc. until September 2013.
To rub salt into the wound further (and despite terminating her contract via a letter dated July 13), a video featuring Torres endorsing the Tommi Copper copper-laced compression technology sleeves was still appearing on Tommie Copper Inc.’s website as of Friday and Dara is still listed as an Ambassador.
Torres has not made herself available for comment but on the same day that she lodged the complaint she did tweet a bikini-clad pic of herself relaxing in a hammock wearing her Koss ear-phones (another product she endorses). Sending the message that she is one cool customer and will not be bullied by the corporate world.