Lance Armstrong Resigns From Cancer Foundation, Gets Dropped By Nike
Nike has ended its endorsement deal with Lance Armstrong after the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s report revealed significant evidence that Armstrong helmed a doping scandal en route to his seven consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999-2005. The report included testimony from former teammates who said that Armstrong doped, supplied to teammates, and at times required them to dope, too.
Nike released the following statement Wednesday morning, shortly after Armstrong, 41, left his position as chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, also known as the Livestrong Foundation, his nonprofit cancer foundation.
"Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner. Nike plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer."
Nike has a reputation of loyalty with its star endorsers who have incurred negative publicity; most notably with Kobe Bryant's sexual assault accusations in 2003, and Tiger Woods' well-publicized infidelity. However, the company has also shown it will cut the cord with a popular athlete amid serious legal troubles in which guilt is clearly implicated, such as during the dogfighting scandal that surrounded Michael Vick in 2007 (and for which he went to prison). Nike, however, re-signed Vick in 2011.
Armstrong initially partnered with Nike in 1996, and his incredible recovery from cancer coupled with his dominance in the Tour de France helped him become one of Nike’s most popular athletes. His Livestrong Foundation has raised over $470 million to support its “mission to inspire and empower people affected by cancer,” according to the foundation’s website, Livestrong.org. However, this is all in the past, and the future looks bleak for Armstrong on the endorsement front.
"It takes pretty damning evidence for them to drop anybody. They're about the most faithful company you can think of," endorsement expert Bob Dorfman told CNN, adding that he thinks other sponsors will soon follow suit. As of Wednesday Radioshack has already cut ties with Armstrong as well.
Perhaps the most unsettling tie between Armstrong and Nike is this 2001 ad released by Nike, in which Armstrong stridently denied doping allegations. Check it out here:
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