Nike pulled an about face on Lance Armstrong, ending its lucrative endorsement deal with the cyclist only days after throwing its support behind him.
In a press release
issued Wednesday morning, the company 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 will continue to support Armstrong’s cancer charity, Livestrong.
Last week, however, Nike was playing a different tune, saying that it plans to continue supporting Armstrong
after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released its 202-page report detailing the evidence against him
According to CyclingNews.com
, small groups of demonstrators had gathered outside Nike’s Oregon headquarters on Tuesday to protest the company’s support of Armstrong. All of that changed on Wednesday with Nike’s announcement.
The sports retailer wasn’t the only sponsor that stuck by Armstrong in the immediate aftermath of the USADA releasing its damning report. According to the Financial Times
, RadioShack and Anheuser-Busch threw their support behind the controversial cyclist. Both companies, however, as well as several others, followed suit later on Wednesday by dropping their sponsorships, reports Bicycle Retailer
To perhaps blunt the news about Nike—after all, Armstrong and his team have proved to be adroit at PR
—Armstrong issued his own announcement on Wednesday morning, indicating he will step down as chairman of Livestrong.
“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,” he said on the Livestrong blog
. “Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.”
On Wednesday morning, both Lance Armstrong and Livestrong were trending topics on Twitter with tweets running the gamut of sharp criticism against the cyclist to those of sympathy and support.