Nike Drops Sponsorship Of Lance Armstrong-Founded Charity

by
Reuters
The Livestrong Foundation, the cancer charity founded by disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, said on Tuesday it has lost sponsorship by Nike Inc, its biggest corporate backer.

Armstrong

The Livestrong Foundation, the cancer charity founded by disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, said on Tuesday it has lost sponsorship by Nike Inc, its biggest corporate backer.

Armstrong founded Livestrong in 1997 after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and the group flourished during Armstrong's cycling career, which saw him win the grueling Tour de France race seven times.

But Armstrong stepped down from Livestrong after being stripped of his cycling titles last fall amid accusations that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

"We expected changes like this," Katherine McLane, a Livestrong spokeswoman, said in a conference call with reporters of the decision by Nike. "We are not the organization that we were a year ago.

"Could there be fallout? Of course," she said. "We remain enormously confident. ... We are in strong fiscal shape."

Nike, which has helped support the foundation since 2004, helped raise more than $100 million, created the group's distinctive yellow wristbands and has produced Livestrong apparel and footwear, according to the foundation's website.

McLane said Livestrong's contract with Nike will conclude at the end of 2014 and not be renewed.

Nike said it would end production of its Livestrong gear and apparel after the holiday 2013 line but would continue to support the foundation by funding it directly.

Austin, Texas-based Livestrong said in a statement that it was grateful to Nike for its nine years of support and said the move was not unexpected.

"This news will prompt some to jump to negative conclusions about the foundation's future. We see things quite differently," Livestrong said in its statement.

Armstrong in January finally admitted that he had used performance-enhancing drugs after years of denial. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, he said that having to sever ties with Livestrong was his "most humbling moment."