Things can’t get much worse for Lance Armstrong these days, but if the accusations of doping are true, then doesn’t he have it coming?
Nike announced this morning that it is cutting all ties with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. Their reason? The “insurmountable evidence” that he participated in doping, and misled the company for over a decade.
Nike issued a statement this morning, saying they were terminating Armstrong’s contract “with great sadness”. “Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner,” it said.
Shortly before Nike made their announcement, Armstrong revealed he was stepping down as chairman of Livestrong, the cancer-fighting charity he founded. Nike has said they will continue to support Livestrong.
These two drastic moves come a week after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released an enormous report detailing allegations of widespread doping by Armstrong and his teammates when he won the Tour de France seven years in a row between 1999-2005. The USADA subsequently banned him from cycling for life, and ordered 14 years of his career results erased, including his seven Tour de France wins.
Lance is set to lose at least $50 million over the next five years after losing deals with Nike and other companies. Armstrong is only the second high profile athlete to be terminated by Nike. Nike dropped Michael Vick back in 2007, when he went to prison for 21 months after being found running a dogfighting ring. Nike ultimately re-signed Vick, who now plays for the Philedelphia Eagles.
Together with Nike, the Livestrong Foundation has raised more than $80 million through the sale of yellow Livestrong wristbands since May 2004. The company also produces and sells a line of Livestrong-branded products, including shoes and T-shirts.
Nike is also expected to change the name of the Lance Armstrong Fitness Center building named after Armstrong at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.
Armstrong’s other sponsors including Anheuser-Busch, sunglasses manufacturer Oakley, energy bar manufacturer Honey Stinger and energy drink FRS continue to stand by the shamed star.
Today’s announcement follows allegations earlier this week that the U.S. sportswear giant had paid $500,000 to the former head of cycling’s world governing body, Hein Verbruggen, to cover up a positive drugs test for Armstrong.
On Tuesday night the company issued a statement saying they ‘vehemently deny’ that they ‘paid former UCI president Verbruggen $500,000 to cover up a positive drug test’.
The statement said: ‘In response to the offensive allegations in today’s New York Daily News, Nike vehemently denies that it paid former UCI president Hein Verbruggen $500,000 to cover up a positive drug test. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs.’
Until today Nike had always strongly defended Armstrong. In August Nike said: ‘We are saddened that Lance Armstrong may no longer be able to participate in certain competitions and his titles appear to be impacted. Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position.’
Armstrong, who was not paid a salary as chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, will remain on its 15-member board. His duties leading the board will be turned over to vice chairman Jeff Garvey, who was founding chairman in 1997.
‘This organization, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart,’ Armstrong said in a statement. ‘Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.’
Foundation spokeswoman Katherine McLane said the decision turns over the foundation’s big-picture strategic planning to Garvey. He will also assume some of the public appearances and meetings that Armstrong used to handle.
Armstrong strongly denies doping, but did not fight USADA accusations through arbitration, saying he thinks the process is unfair. Once Armstrong gave up the fight in August and the report came out, crisis management experts predicted the future of the foundation, known mainly by its Livestrong brand name, would be threatened.
They said Armstrong should consider stepping down to keep the charity from getting dragged into a debate over doping.
Part of me really feels bad for Lance, and part of me thinks he’s getting what he deserves. All those other men who competed for the Tour de France, all those years…. all that … cheating. It’s awful.
Do you think the punishment fits the crime?
Posted Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 at 8:08am
Filed under Lance Armstrong