Ohio State exercise researcher resigns after retraction of CrossFit study

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The senior author of a lawsuit-spawning study of the CrossFit exercise program has resigned from his post at The Ohio State University.

On June 2, we reported that the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research retracted the problematic study because it lacked approval from the institutional review board. The journal had previously corrected the study, acknowledging it contained false injury statistics.

Now, an OSU spokesperson has confirmed that — as first reported by the Columbus Dispatch — former assistant professor Steven Devor resigned May 31, the day after the retraction.

The spokesperson also confirmed that OSU made several demands following an investigation into the CrossFit study: That Devor either correct or retract the study, that he take a 33 percent pay cut for the rest of the year, and that he refrain from both serving as a principal investigator and  contacting graduate students as long as he remained there.

He was found to not have an approved human subjects protocol. His pay cut and the other sanctions were levied because of his failure [to have an approved protocol].

The journal cited the unapproved protocol as the basis for retracting “CrossFit-based High Intensity Power Training Improves Maximal Aerobic Fitness and Body Composition,” originally published in November 2013. In 2015, the journal corrected injury-related data presented in the study, noting that only two participants dropped out of the study due to “overuse or injury” — not nine, as the study originally reported.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed over the study. Last year, OSU reached a six-figure settlement with the owner of the gym where Devor conducted the study.

The National Strength and Conditioning Association, which publishes the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, is also facing ongoing litigation with CrossFit brand headquarters over the paper. Last month, a Federal judge in California presiding over CrossFit’s lawsuit against the NSCA came down hard on the NSCA, noting:

There is plainly sufficient evidence to find willfulness, bad faith, or fault on the part of the NSCA in withholding the recently discovered documents and in lying under oath in the federal proceedings.

The judge also told the organization to pay CrossFit $73,551 to cover lawyers’ fees.

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