End of the road for Armstrong's sponsorship
Thu, 18 Oct 2012 6:44p.m.
By Andrew Gourdie
Support for Lance Armstrong is fading fast following the release of damning evidence supporting claims that drugs were the driving force behind his reign as the world's greatest cyclist.
Several sponsors have now ended their relationships with the disgraced cyclist, forcing Armstrong into a move which could be seen as the first admission of guilt.
Nike have stood by Armstrong for more than a decade and have even built advertising campaigns around his defiance of doping allegations, but a week after the release of the US Anti Doping Agency's damning report into Armstrong's role in the most sophisticated and successful doping programme sport has ever seen, the sportswear giant has dropped the star.
In a statement, they 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."
“This will effectively end his career as an endorser, it'll also cut short his career as a speechmaker, he won't get the hundreds of thousands of dollars that he used to make,” says ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell.
Nike's move has had a domino effect - another four of Armstrong's sponsors say they're ending their relationships with the cyclist, while Oakley's reviewing its position.
All however, have pledged to continue supporting Livestrong - Armstrong's charity which has raised over half a billion dollars for cancer survivors.
But in light of the latest developments, Armstrong has announced he's stepping down as chairman of his own charity.
“He's very committed to seeing it succeed,” says Livestrong spokesperson Katherine McLane. “The last thing he wanted was for this organisation to be affected in any way negatively by that controversy.”
Experts say the foundation's survival hinges on whether Armstrong confesses to doping. If he does, he can expect to be sued for millions by the sponsors who've now deserted him.
The pressure is mounting.
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