Athletic shoe and clothing marketer Nike announced on Wednesday it is ending its contract with Lance Armstrong, the same day that the embattled former pro cyclist announced he was stepping down as chairman of Livestrong. Armstrong business partners Trek and Anheuser-Busch soon followed suit.
The announcements come a week after the USADA disclosed the details of its doping case against the one-time Tour de France champion and stripped him of his 7 titles.
Nike, a longtime supporter of Armstrong and the Livestrong foundation, had stood by him over the years. The company even issued assurances last month that it would continue its endorsement deals with Armstrong after he said he wouldn’t fight the USADA charges anymore.
The details released by the anti-doping agency last week must have been too much, however. Nike issued a statement Wednesday morning that said in full:
“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 termination of the Armstrong contract follows by one day a report in the New York Daily News entitled “Nike may have had impact on Lance Armstrong scandal, possibly involved in what USADA called “most sophisticated” doping program ever.“
Also Wednesday morning, Armstrong announced he was stepping down as chairman of Livestrong, a foundation he created 15 years ago to help cancer patients and survivors and their families. Armstrong is quoted in a Livestrong press release:
“I have had the great honor of serving as this foundation’s chairman for the last five years and its mission and success are my top priorities. Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.”
Current vice chairman Jeff Garvey will elevate to chairman of the foundation. Armstrong will remain on the board of directors.
According to its records, Livestrong has raised nearly a half billion dollars and served more than 2.5 million people. It also is supporting a $1 per pack cigarette tax in California and spearheaded efforts to create the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
Armstrong also had endorsements with Anheuser-Busch and bike-maker Trek.
Both companies reaffirmed their support for Armstrong when he announced last month that he would no longer fight the USADA allegations. However, within hours of the Nike announcement, Anheuser-Busch and Trek both terminated their contracts.
According to the Journal-Sentinel, Trek’s press release said:
“Trek is disappointed by the findings and conclusions in the USADA report regarding Lance Armstrong. Given the determinations of the report, Trek today is terminating our long-term relationship with Lance Armstrong. Trek will continue to support the Livestrong Foundation and its efforts to combat cancer.”
That’s an especially interesting decision in light of the action Tour de France winner Greg Lemond filed against Trek a couple of years ago. Lemond alleged the company devalued his brand manufactured by Trek in retaliation for comments that Lemond had made regarding Armstrong concerning doping.
CyclingNews.com examined that ironic twist in its reporting.
Helmet-maker Giro and electronics store RadioShack also announced they were cutting ties with Armstrong. Joe Lindsey at The Boulder Report says Armstrong still has deals with Johnson Fitness, 24-Hour Fitness and Oakley (at least as of Wednesday afternoon).
Several news sources, such as New York Times, point out that Nike stood by Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant and Michael Vick during their sensational brushes with the law.
Text of Livestrong announcement
AUSTIN, TX–(Marketwire – Oct 17, 2012) – Lance Armstrong, founder and chairman of LIVESTRONG, made the following announcement today regarding his status as chairman of the cancer non-profit organization’s board of directors:
“In 1996, 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 grow it from a dream into an organization that today has served 2.5 million people and helped spur a cultural shift in how the world views cancer survivors. This organization, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart.
“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. And I am deeply humbled by the support our foundation has received from so many people throughout the world — survivors, world leaders, business leaders and of course, the cancer community itself. We turn to this community frequently for guidance and collaboration to achieve our shared goals. They are unfailingly generous with their wisdom and counsel and I can never thank them enough.
“I have had the great honor of serving as this foundation’s chairman for the last five years and its mission and success are my top priorities. Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.
“My duties will transfer to Vice Chairman Jeff Garvey who will serve as chairman. Jeff’s guidance and wisdom have been critical to shaping the foundation’s work since its earliest days. Jeff was this organization’s founding chairman and I have full confidence that under his leadership, the foundation will continue expanding its ability to serve cancer survivors.
“My family and I have devoted our lives to the work of the foundation and that will not change. 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. And we look forward to an exciting weekend of activities marking the 15th anniversary of the foundation’s creation.”
“Long before he became a household name, Lance Armstrong created a foundation to serve others facing the same fears and challenges he struggled to overcome as a result of his cancer diagnosis,” said Doug Ulman, LIVESTRONG President and CEO. “Today, thanks to Lance’s leadership, that foundation has had the privilege of raising close to $500 million to serve people affected by cancer.
“Lance has made this foundation and its cause — aiding people whose lives have been touched by this disease — his life’s work. His leadership in the cancer community has spurred immeasurable progress and it has been a great privilege to work shoulder to shoulder with him on a daily basis during his chairmanship.
“We are grateful to Jeff Garvey for assuming the responsibilities of chairman. Jeff has been a guiding presence for LIVESTRONG for 15 years and we look forward to a seamless transition under his leadership and a continued strong focus on our core values and mission.
“Lance’s devotion to serving others whose lives were irrevocably changed by cancer, as his was, is unsurpassable. We are incredibly proud of his record as an advocate and philanthropist and are deeply grateful that Lance and his family will continue to be actively involved with the Foundation’s advocacy and service work. We look forward to celebrating 15 years of progress with Lance and his family this weekend and recommitting ourselves to the work of the cancer community for the years ahead.”
Facts about LIVESTRONG
- The Foundation provides free, bilingual patient navigation services to cancer patients/survivors and their families facing financial, practical and emotional challenges. More than 2.5 million people have been served by LIVESTRONG Navigation Services through one-to-one support, printed and online educational materials.
- The Foundation also advocates for funding, legislation and policies that further the fight against cancer. Lance and the Foundation recently backed Proposition 29, a California initiative designed to raise funds for cancer research through a $1 tobacco tax increase. Lance and the Foundation successfully backed Proposition 15 in Texas, passed overwhelmingly by voters in 2007. It created the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and a $3 billion fund for cancer research within the state. See the Foundation’sPlatform’s & Priorities for more details on its legislative and advocacy work.
- Lance Armstrong has personally contributed nearly $6.5 million to the Foundation. To date, the Foundation has raised nearly half a billion dollars to serve survivors and combat cancer.
About LIVESTRONG and the Lance Armstrong Foundation
The Foundation provides free cancer support services to help people cope with the financial, emotional and practical challenges that accompany the disease. Created in 1997 by cancer survivor and philanthropist Lance Armstrong, the Foundation is known for its powerful brand — LIVESTRONG – and for its advocacy on behalf of survivors and their families. With its iconic yellow LIVESTRONG wristband, the Foundation has become a symbol of hope and inspiration around the world. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised nearly $500 million to support cancer survivors and served 2.5 million people affected by the disease. For more information, visit LIVESTRONG.org.