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CrossFit Requests Retraction of Erroneous Injury Paper

ByCrossFitMay 27, 2019

On May 17, 2019, CrossFit, Inc. sent a letter to the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine (OJSM) requesting the retraction of a recently published paper, “Likelihood of Injury and Medical Care Between CrossFit and Traditional Weightlifting Participants.” The letter states that the paper should be retracted because it “is beset with scientific error, cites retracted studies that contained fabricated data and inaccurately cites other studies concerning our CrossFit® brand.”

The study’s abstract and stated purpose were as follows:

CrossFit is a popular weightlifting sport, with participants who report significant improvements in physical health; however, others argue that CrossFit exposes participants to an increased risk and severity of injury. We address this through a retrospective cohort study.

The purpose of this study was to compare the likelihood of self-reported injury and severity in CrossFit and traditional weightlifting in the previous 2 years. We hypothesized that CrossFit participants would have a higher 2-year likelihood of injury and medical care compared with a traditional weightlifting cohort.

CrossFit’s letter notes that, as with the National Strength and Conditioning Association and American College of Sports Medicine‘s false and baseless publications concerning the CrossFit® brand, this paper is “beset with scientific error.” For example, the OJSM paper cites the NSCA’s fraudulent research on CrossFit (the NSCA’s Devor study), despite that research being first corrected for containing debunked injury claims and then retracted years ago.

Additionally, the authors fail to define the paper’s fundamental terms, misrepresent their sources, and do not control for exposure. The paper’s conclusions, therefore, are not supported, and its data is meaningless. The publication serves no purpose but to propagate the NSCA’s distortion of the scientific record.

In conclusion (and of relevance to CrossFit affiliates), CrossFit’s letter notes:

Finally, the authors did not properly define what constituted engaging in CrossFit® brand training, either. They state that subjects in the CrossFit group, “self-identified as practicing a CrossFit routine.” This would include people self-identifying as CrossFit practitioners who work out at commercial gyms alone, without supervision. As the authors admit, “Furthermore, in the study by Weisenthal et al, injury rate was significantly decreased when a trainer was involved (P = .028). The use of a trainer was not investigated in our study … Perhaps a CrossFit trainer would be able to identify any alteration in form and, thus, protect the athlete from injury.”

Therefore even if the Paper properly cited sources and defined its terms, its central findings would have little relevance for licensed CrossFit® affiliate gyms and their classes, which are always led by CrossFit, Inc. credentialed trainers.

Neither the paper’s authors nor the journal editors have responded to this letter. We hope they recognize the gravity of these errors and retract the paper swiftly. CrossFit, Inc. will continue to respond promptly and decisively to all inaccurate claims regarding the safety and efficacy of the training provided by its licensed affiliates and trainers.

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