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Pepsi Employee Caught Masquerading as Unbiased Academic, Sticks to the Act

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ByCrossFit July 30, 2019

In December 2013, Jon-Kyle Davis left his position at the University of Montevallo. He became a full-time Pepsi employee; officially, an “Associate Principal Scientist” at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (Exhibits A and B). However, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), a PepsiCo-sponsored entity, repeatedly misrepresented Davis as an academic in its “scientific” journals. In two articles, “Influence of Dehydration on Intermittent Sprint Performance” and “Influence of Clothing on Thermoregulation and Comfort During Exercise in the Heat”), the journal lists Davis’ University of Montevallo affiliation and does not declare his relationship with PepsiCo — a misrepresentation that the NSCA would only address much later.

On April, 18, 2018, CrossFit sent the NSCA a letter informing the organization of this misrepresentation. Our supporting evidence is available here. The NSCA’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research is the same journal that published a fraudulent paper on CrossFit, despite being informed prior to official publication that the paper’s injury rates were fabricated.

In August 2018, the NSCA finally issued two errata, or corrections, for the two papers Davis co-authored. The NSCA’s errata confirmed the substance of CrossFit’s allegations. They stated that Davis was a PepsiCo employee, not an academic, and therefore should have been listed as such in his articles. Note: the NSCA never responded to CrossFit directly.

Here are the NSCA’s two errata:

Both errata contain the same language:

In the original article, author Jon-Kyle Davis’ affiliation was listed incorrectly. The data for this study was collected while Dr. Davis was affiliated with the University of Montevallo. However, at the time the article was published, Dr. Davis was employed by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Thus, the article should have stated Dr. Davis’ affiliation as employed with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. (Emphasis added)

Nonetheless, the U.S. government’s online scientific library PubMed has not updated the abstracts for Davis’ two NSCA papers (“Dehydration,” “Clothing“), nor is the content of the NSCA errata included on PubMed. PubMed lists an erratum for each article, but the listings do not report what the errata actually said. So, unfortunately, readers on PubMed are being misled as to Davis’ employer to this day.

The NSCA made the corrections only after CrossFit reported the error, despite Davis’ affiliations being publicly available. The first paper misrepresenting Davis’ employment had already been in print for 3+ years by the time the erratum was published.

The NSCA’s erratum for the second paper should have also disclosed that Davis’ PepsiCo employment constituted a conflict of interest. The paper’s topic was the “Influence of Dehydration on Intermittent Sprint Performance.” The subject of dehydration directly relates to PepsiCo’s business interests. Indeed, as Professor Tim Noakes’ “Hyponatremia of Exercise” series shows, PepsiCo subsidiary Gatorade has systematically corrupted the record on hydration and thermoregulation to deadly effect. Gatorade — and by extension, Pepsi — has perpetrated this deadly fraud through its partners at the American College of Sports Medicine and the NSCA, inter alia. Davis’ concealment of his employment by a beverage company under the guise of unconflicted scientific inquiry follows a longstanding pattern of misconduct and concealment by PepsiCo via the Gatorade Sports Science Institute.

Despite being caught twice concealing his true employment, Jon-Kyle Davis continues to masquerade as an unbiased academic. Davis’ newest paper, published in January 2019, still falsely reports his affiliation as the University of Montevallo. This paper was published five months after the NSCA issued its two corrections on Davis’ employment. The paper, titled “Differentiated Ratings of Perceived Exertion Between Overweight and Non-Overweight Children During Submaximal Cycling,” was published by the International Journal of Health Sciences (IJHS), a non-NSCA publication belonging to Saudi Arabia’s Qassim University. CrossFit, Inc. has contacted the journal and university to correct the record and has received no response thus far.

While scientific journals have a responsibility to publish accurate information regarding the associations, employment, and relevant conflicts of interest of their authors, PepsiCo and Davis also bear some blame. It has been nearly six years since Davis left the University of Montevallo for PepsiCo. After all that time and two academic corrections, it is inconceivable that Davis and his employer PepsiCo remain unaware of the problem.

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