Armstrong dropped by Nike as he steps down as Livestrong chairman
Wednesday, 17 October 2012
October 17 - Lance Armstrong has been dropped by Nike and has stepped down as chairman of Livestrong, the cancer charity he founded, on what is perhaps his most defining day since the release of damning new doping evidence against him.
The move comes in the wake of a United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) dossier which alleged that Armstrong, 41, and his United States Postal Service (USPS) Pro Cycling team "ran the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen".
Despite pledging its continued to support Armstrong when the evidence first came to light last week, Nike, which has just agreed a new sponsorship deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has taken a complete U-turn and dropped the man who won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times – but forfeited all seven titles after refusing to contest doping charges.
"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," read a statement from the American sportswear giant.
"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 and Armstrong had been in partnership since 1996.
Meanwhile, the Texan confirmed he had quit his role at that particular charity in order to "spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career".
His duties leading the Livestrong board will be handed over to vice-chairman Jeff Garvey, who was founding chairman in 1997, although Armstrong will remain on the foundation's 15-member board.
"This organisation, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart," Armstrong, a cancer survivor himself, added.
"As my cancer treatment was drawing to an end, I created a foundation to serve people affected by cancer.
"It has been a great privilege to help it grow from a dream into an organisation that today has served 2.5 million people and helped spur a cultural shift in how the world views cancer survivors."
Livestrong spokesperson Katherine McLane told BBC Radio 5 live: "I think he reached this decision because he holds this organisation close to his heart and he thinks of this as akin to one of his children in terms of how deeply he cares for it.
"Surprisingly throughout the last few years, with these issues being in the news, we've seen an increase in the number of people that support [Livestrong] and contribute."
Another of Armstrong's long-time sponsors Anheuser-Busch, the brewer of Budweiser, said it would not renew its relationship with the former cyclist past the end of 2012, but will continue to support Livestrong.
And sportswear firm Oakley said: "As we have stated in the past, Oakley does not approve in any way the use of illegal substances for enhancing performance in sports.
"Our policy with our athletes is to support them until proven guilty by the highest governing body of sport or court of law.
"We are reviewing the extensive report from the USADA, as well as our relationship with Lance, and will await final decision-making by the International Cycling Union (UCI)."
Armstrong vehemently denies doping, but gave up the fight to clear his name against the USADA allegations in August, saying he was "finished with this nonsense".