EUGENE, Ore. — It was a busy morning for Lance Armstrong. Within minutes he stepped down from the Livestrong Foundation and lost his long-time sponsors Nike and Anheuser-Busch.
This comes just a week after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a massive report detailing Armstrong’s alleged doping habits.
Armstrong is not the first Nike athlete to be surrounded by controversy, but the difference is, Nike has dropped very few of its other trouble-making talent.
Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods and Ben Rothlisberger are all still sponsored through their list of sex scandals. Michael Vick, though dropped for a short period, was reinstated after dog fighting charges.
Experts say the difference here is Armstrong’s offense is directly related to his athleticism, Nike saying in a statement Wednesday morning “Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner.”
“What he’s accused of strikes to the core of what Nike is all about, is to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world, and the word innovation was not meant to mean be the best cheat. My belief is that the decision was inevitable. It was the right thing to do,” said Paul Swangard, UO Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Director.
Nike says it will still partner with the Livestrong brand and many think that brand will continue to be a strong force in cancer research.
The feeling among many that while Armstrong and his reputation is now tainted, that brand and his legacy as a cancer survivor is not.