And in a further blow to Armstrong’s reputation, longtime corporate sponsor Nike announced it was terminating its contract with Armstrong but would continue supporting the Livestrong initiatives.
Nike is the foundation’s most substantial corporate partner, marketing a line of athletic apparel and equipment that bears the Livestrong brand. Nike was also the creative mind behind the wildly popular Livestrong wristbands that since 2004 have generated roughly $80 million in proceeds.
Those associations will continue, at least for now. But Armstrong himself will no longer be compensated as a Nike athlete in the wake of USADA’s scathing report, his public personae deemed too tainted even for a company that has remained loyal to, and in some cases cultivated associations with, athletes with controversial images.
USADA’s 202-page report, which was backed by more than 1,000 pages of supporting documents and testimony and made public Oct. 10, asserted that Armstrong achieved all of his record seven Tour de France championships “start to finish” through doping. It relied on the testimony of 26 witness, including 11 of Armstrong’s former teammates. And it included detailed, first-hand accounts of Armstrong not only taking banned substances such as EPO and undergoing blood transfusion but also pressuring teammates on the U.S. Postal Service cycling team to dope, as well, and threatening those in position to testify against him.
Nike’s decision to drop one of the brand’s most prominent athletes was a result of “significant evidence” that Armstrong used performance-enchancing substances and hid those truths from the company. As Cindy Boren writes:
The Oregon-based company announced the termination of its long relationship with Armstrong shortly after he announced that he was resigning as head of his Livestrong cancer charity.
Nike, in a statement on its website, said:
“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.”
Armstrong resigned as chairman of Livestrong a week after a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report called the former champion cyclist the driving force behind “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”