Sponsors drop Armstrong amid 'insurmountable evidence' of doping
Oct 17, 2012 (Menafn - The Washington Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Nike and RadioShack on Wednesday became the first sponsors to publicly acknowledge dropping Lance Armstrong, after months of sticking by the embattled cyclist.
The iconic sports gear manufacturer decided to part ways with Mr. Armstrong following "insurmountable evidence" that America's most famous cyclist participated in a doping scheme and "misled" the Beaverton, Ore.-based company for more than a decade. The fallout comes a week after the United States Anti-Doping Agency released an extensive report of his use of performance-enhancing drugs during his career.
"Due to seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping ... it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him," the company said in a statement. "Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in any manner."
RadioShack, which had an endorsement deal with Mr. Armstrong dating back to July 2009, has also ended its contract with him.
"RadioShack has no current obligations with Lance Armstrong," the company told The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Armstrong also announced Wednesday he is stepping down as chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, his cancer-fighting charity, to avoid being a distraction for the organization.
"I am deeply grateful to the people of the foundation who have done such hard and excellent work over the last 15 years, building tangible and effective ways to improve the lives of cancer survivors," he said in a statement.
Nike has a long history of standing by its athletes. That was seen in the company's staunch support of Mr. Armstrong prior to Wednesday. In August, the company continued to back Mr. Armstrong after he stopped fighting the doping charges.
"Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position," Nike spokeswoman Mary Remuzzi said at the time. Nike, initially, maintained that stance last week, even after the USADA doping report was released.
In 2009, Nike stood by golfer Tiger Woods after his reputation suffered from revelations about his extramarital affairs, even as brands like Gillette, AT&T, General Motors and Gatorade terminated endorsement deals with him.
It also backed Kobe Bryant, who signed an endorsement deal in 2003 just days before he was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman. While other brands like McDonald's and Coke stopped working with the basketball star, Nike just postponed using Mr. Bryant to promote products until after the assault charges were dropped in 2005.
But the mounting evidence against Mr. Armstrong was too much for Nike to ignore. After taking more time to review the USADA report, Nike reversed its decision, and terminated the company's contract with him.
Nike's stock was trading up 29 cents at 97.53 during mid-day trading Wednesday.
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