Finally, they've just done it: Armstrong dumped by Nike over doping and lying after investing tens of millions in cheat
12:58 GMT, 17 October 2012
Frehs twist: Nike and Livestrong have distanced themselves from Lance Armstrong
The announcement came minutes after Armstrong revealed he was stepping down as
chairman of his Livestrong cancer-fighting charity so the group can
focus on its mission instead of the doping allegations surrounding the
former cycling champion.
The move came a week after the US Anti-Doping Agency released a damning report containing accusations of
widespread doping by Armstrong and his team-mates when he won the Tour de
France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005.
The document's purpose
was to show why USADA has banned him from cycling for life and ordered
14 years of his career results erased – including his Tour titles. It
contains sworn statements from 26 witnesses, including 11 former
Armstrong, who was not paid a salary as chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, will remain on its 15-member board. His duties leading the board will be turned over to vice chairman Jeff Garvey, who was founding chairman in 1997.
Suspicion: Lance Armstrong is checked up back in the 2003 Tour de France
'This organization, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart,' Armstrong said in a statement.
'Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.'
Foundation spokeswoman Katherine McLane said the decision turns over the foundation's big-picture strategic planning to Garvey. He will also assume some of the public appearances and meetings that Armstrong used to handle.
Armstrong strongly denies doping, but did not fight USADA accusations through arbitration, saying he thinks the process is unfair. Once Armstrong gave up the fight in August and the report came out, crisis management experts predicted the future of the foundation, known mainly by its Livestrong brand name, would be threatened. They said Armstrong should consider stepping down to keep the charity from getting dragged into a debate over doping.
Big backers: Nike were supporters of Armstrong – on the road and off it
The Armstrong scandal had taken a new twist on
Tuesday with the allegation that Nike paid $500,000 to the former head
of cycling’s world governing body, Hein Verbruggen, to cover up a
positive drugs test.
US sportswear giant, a long-time sponsor of Armstrong and his
Livestrong charity, said they were standing by him, despite the decision
of the US Anti-Doping Agency to ban him for life and strip him of his
seven Tour de France titles.
the company issued a statement on Tuesday night saying they ‘vehemently
deny’ that they ‘paid former UCI president Verbruggen $500,000 to
cover up a positive drug test’.
The statement said: 'In response to
the offensive allegations in today’s New York Daily News, 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.'
It followed a report in the New York
Daily News that Kathy LeMond, wife of three-time Tour winner Greg,
testified under oath in 2006 that she was told by Armstrong’s mechanic,
Julien Devries, about the alleged donation in July 2000.
It is alleged the payment was made by
Nike and Thom Weisel, an American financier who helped set up
Armstrong’s team, and that it was paid into a Swiss bank account
belonging to Verbruggen, president of the UCI from 1991-2005, and now
UCI honorary president and an honorary member of the IOC.
Mrs LeMond confirmed to Sportsmail
last night that her testimony in 2006 followed a conversation with
Devries in July 2000. At the time, Devries was working for Armstrong,
but he had worked with, and been close to, LeMond, who retired in 1994.
Mrs LeMond said that Devries told her
in 2000 that the payment came after Armstrong tested positive for
corticosteroids at the 1999 Tour. ‘Everything else Julien told us has
turned out to be accurate,’ said Mrs LeMond.
Sacked: Armstrong's former team-mate Matthew White was axed by Cycling Australia on Tuesday after admitting doping between 2001 and 2003
She originally revealed her
conversation with Devries during a 2006 deposition in Texas after
Armstrong filed a lawsuit against SCA, an insurance company who withheld
a $5million bonus because of doping allegations in the book L.A.
The LeMonds — among the first
high-profile people to go public with their suspicions that Armstrong
doped — were called to testify by SCA. In the event, SCA paid the bonus,
though they have intimated in the last week that they will seek to
reclaim the money.
A UCI spokesman yesterday insisted
they would say nothing about the Armstrong case until 31 October, which
is the deadline for their response to USADA’s ‘Reasoned Decision’
against Armstrong and his team, US Postal.
Nike’s decision to continue
supporting Armstrong has drawn criticism and protests, with a former
team-mate of Armstrong, Paul Willerton, yesterday leading a group of
cycling fans to the company’s corporate headquarters in Beaverton,
Banners brandished by protesters included a variation on Nike’s slogan: ‘Just do the right thing: sack Lance.
Claims: Kathy Lemond pictured alongside husband Greg
'My family and I have devoted our lives to the work of the foundation
and that will not change. We plan to continue our service to the
foundation and the cancer community. We will remain active advocates for
cancer survivors and engaged supporters of the fight against cancer,' Armstrong said.
CharityWatch, which analyzes the work of approximately 600 charities,
lists the foundation among its top-rated organizations. That status
normally goes to groups which 'generally spend 75 percent or more of
their budgets on programs, spend $25 or less to raise $100 in public
support, do not hold excessive assets in reserve' and disclose of basic
financial information and documents.
Livestrong says it had functional expenses totaling nearly $35.8 million
last year and 82 percent of every dollar raised went directly to
programs, a total of more than $29.3 million.
The foundation reported a spike in contributions in late August in the
days immediately after Armstrong announced he would no longer fight
doping charges and officials moved to erase his Tour victories.
Daniel Borochoff, founder and president of Chicago-based CharityWatch,
said last week it may take some time for donors to digest the
allegations against Armstrong.
'Individuals that admire and support an individual who is later found
out to be severely tarnished, don't want to admit it, don't want to
admit that they've been duped,' Borochoff said. 'People, though, do need
to trust a charity to be able to support it.'