Lance Armstrong, Nike part ways

In the wake of incriminating drug reports, the disgraced cyclist also severs ties with the cancer charity he founded.

By Jason Notte Oct 17, 2012 1:22PM

Image, Cyclists copyright Digital Vision., Digital Vision, Getty ImagesLance Armstrong's reputation had exactly two lycra-thin layers shielding it from evidence that he doped his way to seven Tour de France wins: Armstrong's Nike (NKE) endorsement and his LiveStrong cancer charity.


Those were both stripped away Wednesday, but Armstrong and "stripped" have been getting pretty chummy lately. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency stripped Armstrong of his career as a cyclist, stripped him of all his wins -- including the Tour de France victories from 1999 to 2005 -- and then stripped any remaining shred of his credibility by releasing reports detailing the allegations against him last week.


Armstrong stepped down as LiveStrong's chairman Wednesday to "spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career." And Nike said in a press release that it "plans to continue support of the LiveStrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer" but has no problem showing its founder the door.


"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 release continues. "Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner."


Oh, yeah? Because Nike sure seems to like juiced athletes before they're caught. At one time, Nike's endorsement stable included NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman and MLB sluggers Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi and Manny Ramirez. All admitted to using steroids. Ramirez and Merriman were suspended by their leagues for doing so.


Yet, like Armstrong, all collected paychecks from Nike in their prime. We're decades into the steroid era, and it's clear that sports governing bodies don't have a handle on testing or punishment. Yet nobody in Beaverton, Ore., seems to think it's wise to ask a multimillion-dollar contractor to submit to a drug test.


Nike's approach to supporting larger-than-non-enhanced-life athletes while they're superhuman and dropping them once they and their careers collapse seems to be working. It's been seven years since Armstrong's last Tour de France victory. He placed 23rd at the 2011 Tour de France race that ended his three-year comeback bid. Now his name has enough tarnish attached to it to warrant an Ad Age poll asking whether or not he's brand poison.


That long-term approach subjects Nike to a whole lot of risk for those record-breaking rewards. Why Nike dabbled in cycling in the first place is worth questioning. As Deadspin pointed out when Armstrong was first stripped of his titles in August, cycling is a steroid-addled farce where even Armstrong's runners-up had steroid issues. That creates a lot of guilt by association that other cyclists aren't particularly crazy about. Of the USADA's 26 witnesses against Armstrong, 11 were former teammates. Meanwhile, the wife of U.S. Tour de France winner and noted Armstrong detractor Greg LeMond alleges Armstrong's sponsor paid the former head of cycling world governing body to cover up a positive drug test.


None of that lets Armstrong off the hook in the slightest. Since the USADA made its decision this summer, Armstrong and his supporters offered breathless defenses and, in some cases, argued that the good of Armstrong's LiveStrong foundation outweighs any harm caused by his steroid use. Leave aside the high-minded rants about the integrity of a sport that hasn't had any in nearly a generation: This should be offensive to anyone who's ever lived with cancer or had someone die from it. Armstrong's cancer survival story would have been fine on its own if he'd just come back from it, rode his bike and competed as best he could. Instead, he partnered with Nike and used it to sell shoes.


Even worse, he took a drug that cancer patients use to prevent their bodies from wasting away -- from literally having the life sucked out of them -- and used it to gain an unfair advantage in both his sport and business dealings.


A few years ago, in a Nike commercial aimed at Armstrong's doping accusers, Armstrong asked "What am I on?" Now we have an answer: Not his cancer charity's board and not Nike's payroll.


More from Top Stocks

3Comments
Oct 17, 2012 7:21PM
avatar
Thats ****ed up,he was a cancer patient himself,he was taking this **** to help him overcome cancer,****,I say he did nothing wrong,their just jealous of him.
He took the roids to help him kick cancer,do you really think it gave him an edge against the rest of the field?NO,Hell no.

Oct 17, 2012 9:33PM
avatar
what happened to presumed innocence?The evidence is just not there to convict him of any of this
Oct 17, 2012 3:16PM
avatar
Only Armstrong, his wife, his teammates and his sponsors can break the anti-doping rules -- for almost a decade -- and also leave us feeling bad for finally imposing them. 
Collective hypocrisy and acquiescence had never reached such heights. 
Report
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
Categories
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

STOCK SCOUTER

StockScouter rates stocks from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, using a system of advanced mathematics to determine a stock's expected risk and return. Ratings are displayed on a bell curve, meaning there will be fewer ratings of 1 and 10 and far more of 4 through 7.

116
116 rated 1
275
275 rated 2
482
482 rated 3
656
656 rated 4
643
643 rated 5
650
650 rated 6
638
638 rated 7
485
485 rated 8
281
281 rated 9
127
127 rated 10
12345678910

Top Picks

SYMBOLNAMERATING
AAPLAPPLE Inc10
ATVIACTIVISION BLIZZARD Inc10
CTSHCOGNIZANT TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS10
FOXATWENTY-FIRST CENTURY FOX Inc CLASS A10
HPQHEWLETT PACKARD CO10
More

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

ABOUT

Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.

Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.

Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.