Ford pulls Mustang video featuring doper who helped bring down Lance Armstrong
Storm of disapproval on social media over rider who sued his accusers
Car maker Ford has taken down from YouTube a video clip for its latest Mustang that features Kayle Leogrande, the tattooed former pro whose conviction for doping led to the investigation and eventual downfall of Lance Armstrong.
The clip, called 'For The Love' features Leogrande driving the new car and talking about his love of the road and how travelling together provides a chance to be together for him and his wife Chelsea.
While Ford has taken the clip down from YouTube, it's still available on the company's own website, though we suspect that won't last long.
The video features lots of shots of implausibly empty roads and of Chelsea Leogrande, a professional photographer, in the role of silent decoration.
Using a convicted doper in your marketing would seem like an obviously bad idea, except perhaps to Ford's marketing team.
Negative reaction on social media was swift and vocal after RaceRadio noticed the video and tweeted:
Coach Adam Myerson's reaction was typical:
Much of the opprobrium was aimed directly at Ford:
The 'supporting role' played by Chelsea Leogrande didn't go unnoticed either:
So to recap, Ford wants me to buy Kyle Leogrande's wife. Noted.— Jerry ChaBOOM (@closethedoor) August 14, 2014
Leogrande was one of the first cyclists to be sanctioned for doping without a positive test. He confessed to Rock Racing team soigneur Suzanne Sonye that he was worried about testing positive and Sonye alerted the US Anti-Doping Agency.
The evidence against Leogrande included the testimony of another convicted doper, Joe Papp, and included a photograph of Leogrande with a handful of vials of EPO. In 2008, Leogrande was suspended for two years.
He attempted to sue the USADA, Sonye, Papp and former pro Matt Decanio for defamation, but the case against Sonye was dismissed and Leogrande was ordered to pay her legal costs, financially crippling him. The Armstrong-style tactic of suing his accusers fuelled the strong negative attitudes toward Leogrande in the reaction to the Ford video.
Obtaining a doping conviction against Leogrande without a positive test encouraged USADA to investigate persistent rumours of doping on Lance Armstrong's US Postal and Discovery Channel teams.
In 2012 USADA chief Travis Tygart told the New York Times: “Without Leogrande, who knows, the Armstrong investigation maybe never would have happened.”