Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Several more companies have followed Nike in cutting Lance Armstrong loose in the wake of the release of the USADA’s doping evidence against him, reports Reed Albergotti, Vanessa O’Connell, and Suzanne Vranica in the Wall Street Journal.
The former sponsors include:
- Anheuser-Busch (won’t renew contract, no more Michelob ads)
- Trek (the gear company that made every bike Armstrong rode in the Tours)
- FRS (energy drink maker)
- Honey Stinger (energy foods maker)
- Easton-Bell (Giro helmet maker)
Sunglasses-maker Oakley, another sponsor, is said to be waiting to see what the International Cycling Union decides to do before it makes its decision. (The ICU, which some have suggested looked the other way for years while doping proliferated in cycling, can either accept the USADA’s evidence or fight it in court.) If the ICU decides to fight, Oakley will be in a tough position.
Armstrong was estimated to be making $15-$18 million a year from his sponsorships, so the loss of these contracts is more than simply humiliating.
Given the strength of the USADA’s evidence, however, as well as Armstrong’s decision not to defend himself against the allegations, corporations have little choice but to dump him. Companies can’t be seen as condoning cheating, even when most of the competitors in the sport appear to have been doing it.
For now, through his lawyers and foundation, Armstrong is still denying the allegations. The more he loses, though, the less he will have left to lose. So it will be interesting to see whether, at some point, he decides to follow in the footsteps of the rest of his teammates and come clean.
(If he does, he’ll face other challenges, including possible charges of lying under oath in a sponsor lawsuit and the need to apologise to a lot of former teammates and friends whose reputations he tried to destroy when they went public with their stories. But given the many challenges Armstrong has overcome in his life, he probably has what it takes to overcome this one.)
SEE ALSO: The Rise And Fall Of Lance Armstrong
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