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Evidence Causes Nike To Dump Armstrong

Oct 17, 2012  - Craig Lord

Nike stuck by Lance Armstrong when the wind got up but the blizzard of evidence could not be held back: today, the sports kit maker terminated its sponsorship agreement with the disgraced cyclist "due to the insurmountable evidence" that showed, said Nike, that the man they backed "participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade".

A Nike statement reads: '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."

The announcement came moments after Armstrong revealed that he was stepping down as chairman of his Livestrong cancer-fighting charity so the group can focus on its mission instead of the doping allegations surrounding the former cycling champion. Last year, the foundation raised almost $30 million for the cause.

Hundreds of swimmers and their federations continue to list Armstrong as "hero", "inspiration" and more. Pressure will nose mount for those references to be removed, the charity side of the cyclist now a double coin: it helped people in need - and gave the cyclist a starry public profile at a time when, if a USADA report that lists his misdemeanours in sport stands up, he was cheating his way to fame.

Nike had long supported Armstrong throughout all the time he spent denying that he had ever done anything wrong in sport. That has now come to an end.

Some things will not change as Armstrong makes his way through a much-changed world. "My family and I have devoted our lives to the work of the foundation and that will not change," said the cancer survivor. "We plan to continue our service to the foundation and the cancer community. We will remain active advocates for cancer survivors and engaged supporters of the fight against cancer."

Meanwhile, Daniel Borochoff, founder and president of Chicago-based CharityWatch, says that it may take some time for donors to digest the allegations against Armstrong and only time will tell if that affects their donations to the foundation that bears a part of the former cyclist's name in a world which offers people a chance to donate to cancer research through many organisations.

"Individuals that admire and support an individual who is later found out to be severely tarnished, don't want to admit it, don't want to admit that they've been duped," Borochoff said. "People, though, do need to trust a charity to be able to support it."

More on the relevance of Armstrong to the world of swimming.