SPORTSWEAR giant Nike finally severed ties with cyclist Lance Armstrong yesterday, a week after the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) published its avalanche of claims that he masterminded a doping conspiracy.
Nike cited the “seeming insurmountable evidence” against Armstrong, who stands to lose his seven Tour de France titles after declining to contest the USADA charges. The move came as Armstrong, who denies doping, stepped down as chairman of his charity Livestrong.
“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,” the company said in a statement.
“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.”
USADA last week released more than 1,000 pages of what it says is “conclusive and undeniable proof” that Armstrong, now retired, led “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping programme the sport has ever seen”. Cycling’s world governing body, the UCI, is yet to give its verdict on the findings.
Nike this week denied allegations that it paid former UCI president Hein Verbruggen $500,000 to cover up a positive Armstrong drugs test.