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Disgraced former cyclist will stay on board of charity he founded in 1997

A number of companies that sponsored Lance Armstrong have moved to distance themselves from him today. The most prominent are sportswear giant Nike, which announced that it has ended its association with him due to "seemingly insurmountable evidence" that he doped during his career and "misled" the company "for more than a decade," and Trek Bicycles, whose recent history is inextricably linked with Armstrong's now-nullified Tour wins.

The news came shortly after Armstrong himself said he is stepping down as chairman of Livestrong, the charity also known as the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which he founded after in 1997 after surviving cancer.

Electronics retailer RadioShack has confirmed it has no current sponsorship deals with Armstrong, without confirming when the last one finished, and said it has ended his relationship with him, and Anheuser-Busch, which owns the Michelob Ultra brand of beer he endorses, has said it will not be renewing his current three-year deal when it expires at the end of the year. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, Easton Bell, owner of Giro whose helmets Armstrong uses and endorses, has also dropped him today, although like Nike, it will continue its asociation with Livestrong. Eyewear firm Oakley is said to be reviewing the situation.

According to research cited by the Wall Street Journal, Armstrong's pulling power as a celebrity spokesman - and consumers' trust in him - has plummeted in recent years. Quoting data from a specialist firm that tracks that data through consumer surveys, it says he was ranked 60th in June 2008 but had fallen to 1,410th by September 2012.

That was after USADA said it was banning him for life, but it's the subsequent publication of its reasoned decision, and the detailed evidence it contains, that appears to have irreperably damaged the Armstrong brand.

In a statement published on its website, Nike 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.

It added: "Nike plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer."

Nike, which yesterday was awarded the high-profile contract to supply the International Olympic Committee until 2016, replacing its bitter rival Adidas, has come under pressure over the past week to affirmin its commitment to clean sport by distancing itself from Armstrong following publication by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) of its Reasoned Decision against the man who won the Tour de France seven times.

A number of media outlets reported testimony yeterday from Greg Lemond's wife Kathy given during a deposition in the SCA Promotions case in 2006 that Nike had paid former UCI President Hein Verbruggen $500,000 to cover up a positive test by Armstrong in 1999, a payment she said she had heard about from his former mechanic.

Nike strongly refuted the claim that any such payment had ever been made, saying in a statement yesterday: "Nike vehemently denies that it paid former UCI president Hein Verbruggen $500,000 to cover up a positive drug test. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs.”

Yesterday also saw a protest outside Nike's headquarters in Oregon led by former pro cyclist Paul Willerton, who raced alongside Armstrong for the US national team in the 1992 world championships, the year before Armstrong won the rainbow jersey in Oslo.

Willerton, who left the sport due to his disillusionment with doping, joined fellow protestors in urging Nike to reconsider its decision to stand by Armstrond despite the evidence published by USADA.

Another major sponsor of Armstrong, Trek, said in a release today, “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 longterm relationship with Lance Armstrong. Trek will continue to support the Livestrong Foundation and its efforts to combat cancer.” Armstrong is believed to be a Trek shareholder, and many believe that it was pressure from the Texan that led in part to Trek dropping the Lemond brand; indeed, Betsy Andreu's affidavit recalls a conversation with Armstrong: “Lance said: ‘I’m going to make one call to John Burke and fucking shut him up.’ I asked who John Burke was and was told he owned Trek, the bike company that sponsored Lance as well as made Greg LeMond’s bikes.”

Oakley is another company associated with Armstrong  that has faced calls to clarify its position.

Regarding Armstrong's decision to step down from his role with his charity, according to a statement from him obtained by Associated Press, he made his decision so that the charity can focus on its work with cancer victims, rather than it being overshadowed by the continuing fallout from the United State Anti Doping Agency's investigation which resulted in him being banned for sport for life.

"This organization, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart," said Armstrong in his statement, quoted in the New York Post. "Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship."

According to spokeswoman Katherine McLane, vice-chairman Jeff Garvey, who was chairman of the charity when it was founded 15 years ago this week, will take over responsibility for the organisation's strategic planning. Armstrong will remain on the Livestrong board.  

LIvestrong's 15th aniversary is due to be celebrated by a series of events in the coming days in Armstong's home city of Austin, Texas, including a gala event on Friday evening that is scheduled to include appearances by long-time supporters Robin Williams and Ben Stiller.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

45 comments

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arrieredupeleton [576 posts] 4 years ago
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Nike have now folded....I think Larry is currently ringing 90 minutes to agree the fee for the exclusive 'confession' interview. He'd be the victim, clearly.

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Sadly Biggins [269 posts] 4 years ago
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Nike have apparently just terminated his sponsorship too. Not looking good for him.

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theclaw [73 posts] 4 years ago
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L.A will end up like Charley Mottet in my opinion. The whole shambles is incredibly sad for cycling, which is the big loser in all this. Just as important as outing L.A is now getting rid of McQuaid and Verbruggen from the UCI, whose tyrannical stewardship of cycling is nothing but disgraceful. Those two old men disgust me, they are the Jimmy Saville's of cycling, pretending to help the cause whilst simultaneously fiddling, abusing, persecuting, and rodgering behind closed doors those that they claim to help.

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andyp [1473 posts] 4 years ago
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'The whole shambles is incredibly sad for cycling, which is the big loser in all this.'

er...it is a truly fantastic thing for cycling. It's an epic WIN, as the kids say.

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theclaw [73 posts] 4 years ago
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andyp wrote:

'The whole shambles is incredibly sad for cycling, which is the big loser in all this.'

er...it is a truly fantastic thing for cycling. It's an epic WIN, as the kids say.

You mis-read the comment. "The whole shambles" includes and refers to L.A's activity in the sport over the last 20 years.

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 4 years ago
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it is a shambles, on someone who many looked up to as a hero of the sport, the sheer arrogance of the cheat and those involved around him. Sad day all in all ....

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Low Speed Wobble [156 posts] 4 years ago
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Trek next? One wonders what, if anything, will be left of Armstrong once this story rolls out to its conclusion. Even now I would suggest it is not too late for him to come clean. Does he subscribe to road.cc?

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steampie [5 posts] 4 years ago
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What PR-driven rubbish. LA is still on the board of Livestrong, he will continue to earn money from their for-profit arm livestrong.com, he will continue (as he has for years) to get paid for each appearance he makes for Livestrong, he will continue to get his share of the revenue of all of the yellow Livestrong apparel that Nike will continue to sell. Nothing's changed for him other than at least some of his legions of deniers actually facing up to the harsh truth about his sustained campaign of lying, bullying, intimidating, etc.

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georgee [171 posts] 4 years ago
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Brilliant, the $500,000 claims pushed them over the edge, though I suspect there was some truth behind Mrs Lemondes comments.

There’s a Texas tale of hard-ball politics that dates to one of Lyndon Johnson’s first campaigns. Lyndon was the underdog against a well-liked and respectable incumbent who was the odds-on favorite to win (there were no polls in those days). At a strategy session Johnson instructed his staff to spread the rumor that the opponent had a proclivity for sex with animals, pigs in particular. “My God, we can’t say that,” protested a staffer, “it couldn’t possibly be true!” “I know,” said Lyndon, “but let’s make him deny it.

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Sudor [188 posts] 4 years ago
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Lets hope Trek and the others do the same in quick order - it's only taken Nike 8 years to recognise the obvious.

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ventoux3 [2 posts] 4 years ago
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theclaw wrote:

L.A will end up like Charley Mottet in my opinion. The whole shambles is incredibly sad for cycling, which is the big loser in all this. Just as important as outing L.A is now getting rid of McQuaid and Verbruggen from the UCI, whose tyrannical stewardship of cycling is nothing but disgraceful. Those two old men disgust me, they are the Jimmy Saville's of cycling, pretending to help the cause whilst simultaneously fiddling, abusing, persecuting, and rodgering behind closed doors those that they claim to help.

Can you clarify this. How will L.A end up like Charly Mottet who is generally ackowledged to have ridden clean throughout his career and continues to be weel respected? Or have I missed something?

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russyparkin [570 posts] 4 years ago
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steampie wrote:

What PR-driven rubbish. LA is still on the board of Livestrong, he will continue to earn money from their for-profit arm livestrong.com, he will continue (as he has for years) to get paid for each appearance he makes for Livestrong, he will continue to get his share of the revenue of all of the yellow Livestrong apparel that Nike will continue to sell. Nothing's changed for him other than at least some of his legions of deniers actually facing up to the harsh truth about his sustained campaign of lying, bullying, intimidating, etc.

im trying to but I dont think I could word this any better.

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WolfieSmith [1327 posts] 4 years ago
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I look forward to Pat and Hein explaining the latest. After Festina in 1998 when the French Police had had enough and with the introduction of the EPO test in 2000 the UCI should have sat down with the bully from Austin - called him and Nike out and finished the mess. It seems they rolled over for cash instead.

I was relieved about Arnstrong and now doubly relieved - as the UCI has to be eviserated and rebuilt. We've been watching years of doping partly so that Pat and Hein could line their pockets. I can't think of terms to describe how I feel about the sport being treated like that and us taken for mugs.

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gbzpto [101 posts] 4 years ago
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Sudor wrote:

Lets hope Trek and the others do the same in quick order - it's only taken Nike 8 years to recognise the obvious.

It can only be a matter of time! Trek growth was partly because of Armstrong. Trek will not want to be associated with a doper for much longer surely!

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stealth [254 posts] 4 years ago
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I honestly thought that the depths had been reached after 'The Festina Affair', Operation Puerto & Rasmussen/Vinokourov, but this reaches new levels. Its a cynical disgrace that appears to transcend into the governing body of the sport. Nobody should be above the rules. It just makes you wonder who will be next...

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andyp [1473 posts] 4 years ago
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'You mis-read the comment. "The whole shambles" includes and refers to L.A's activity in the sport over the last 20 years.'

You need the past tense then. All the current stuff is wonderful for cycling.what went on is history and it is great that we are making a clean break from all that nonsense.

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Seveso [5 posts] 4 years ago
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 4
Breaking News! Livestrong already updated their apparel:

http://cheathard.spreadshirt.com/

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OldnSlo [137 posts] 4 years ago
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If you want to listen to an in-depth analysis and evidence from some
of lances fellow dopers and soigneur then point your browser at
www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer look for radio stations. Radio 5 live. Sorry
can't remember the name of the show but it was on at 19:00 on
monday, 15th. It was a tad shocking.

As for the UCI, they're a crock of shite. Get rid and start again,
cycling deserves far better.

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Alan Tullett [1568 posts] 4 years ago
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Well, it will be wonderful if things are followed through but that is unlikely. People aren't going to give up well-paid, powerful jobs unless there is another power who can get rid of them. International sports organizations have no such power above them and scant democracy so I doubt if much will really change. Blatter is still in power and I'm sure McQuaid won't be any easier to remove. Love to be proved wrong of course.

The only good thing is the existence of WADA. That is a bit of a game changer.

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james-o [235 posts] 4 years ago
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Do we all believe that Nike knew nothing at all about this for so many years...? I don't.

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georgee [171 posts] 4 years ago
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Right onto to Armstrongs Oakley rep Stephanie MacIlvain, who was pressured to commit perjury in the SCA promotions trial. Was Stephanie pressured by Oakley as well as Armstrong?

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georgee [171 posts] 4 years ago
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Right onto to Armstrongs Oakley rep Stephanie MacIlvain, who was pressured to commit perjury in the SCA promotions trial. Was Stephanie pressured by Oakley as well as Armstrong?

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Simon_MacMichael [2467 posts] 4 years ago
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OldnSlo wrote:

If you want to listen to an in-depth analysis...

BBC Podcast of that show can be found here.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/5lspecials

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 4 years ago
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And now Radioshack have followed suit. I can't wait for Lance to get really pissed, and start leaking information to the media about strange goings on in Aigle. What's the point of bribing people if they can't help you?

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Simon_MacMichael [2467 posts] 4 years ago
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james-o wrote:

Do we all believe that Nike knew nothing at all about this for so many years...? I don't.

I think Nike's use of the word "misled" is very interesting. Breach of contract?

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Stumps [3415 posts] 4 years ago
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On a slightly different note but still about drugs Team Sky have just released this document.

Team Sky has had a clear position on doping from the very start. We are a clean team and have shown it is possible to win clean.
We want a team in which riders are free of the risks of doping and in which fans – new and old - can believe without any doubt or hesitation.
There is no place in Team Sky for those with an involvement in doping, whether past or present. This applies to management, support staff and riders.
Like others, we have been shocked by recent revelations of systemic doping in cycling’s past. So we have taken steps to reaffirm our commitment to being a clean team.
Today the riders, staff and management of Team Sky entered their annual end-of-season camp, where we review the season, plan the year ahead, and look to the future.
At its start, Team Principal Dave Brailsford re-stated our stance on doping and called on the riders, staff and management to reaffirm their own personal commitment to our position.
Over the coming weeks, we will talk individually with each team member and ask everyone, at every level of the team, to sign up to a clear written policy, confirming that they have no past or present involvement in doping.
Should anyone choose not to sign up to our clear policy they will have to leave the team, as will anyone who does sign but is subsequently found to be in breach.

I wonder where this leaves Sean Yates' future with Sky  39

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Raleigh [1667 posts] 4 years ago
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Good Cut and Paste tekkers.

 19

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_SiD_ [163 posts] 4 years ago
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Is it just me or does all this look very ordered, very planned, very managed.
It may look like an avalanche but underneath it feels pre arranged, in sequence. Very Armstrong.

Armstrong and the lawyers have known the detail of the USADA file for some time and have had time to prepare for this. I think this is the first stage of the 'comeback'. Not sure what the next step is but I have a feeling a full confession is inevetible.

The only thing I can compare it to is Clinton's 'cigar smoking' in the Oval Office. Next to that the Armstrong story is small beer. By the time Clinton left the Whitehouse he was more popular than ever. America is a very forgiving country. He's far from finished I feel.

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Gkam84 [9092 posts] 4 years ago
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Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch have dropped him aswell now  19

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OldnSlo [137 posts] 4 years ago
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Trek's solution is easy... a rebrand to Lemond !
It worked for Datsun!.

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