SBD/October 16, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Testimonies Allege Nike, UCI Helped Lance Armstrong In Doping Cover-Up

Armstrong in '02 donated more than $100,000 to Int'l Cycling Union
There is evidence that "suggests Nike is not simply a sponsor that chose to remain visibly loyal" to Lance Armstrong, but "an active participant in what the USADA report described as the most sophisticated doping program in sports history," according to Michael O’Keeffe of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Kathy Lemond, the wife of American cyclist Greg Lemond, testified during an '06 deposition that Nike paid former Int'l Cycling Union President Hein Verbruggen $500,000 to "cover up a positive drug test.” Betsy Andreu, the wife of Armstrong’s former friend and teammate, Frankie Andreu, said, “Lance didn’t do it alone. ... How else could he pull off the biggest fraud in the history of sport? He had big corporations backing him, the cycling governing body, UCI, defending him, and the media ignoring the evidence. No wonder fans thought that he was clean” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/16). Nike North America Media Relations Manager KeJuan Wilkins in a 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" (THE DAILY). Meanwhile, the PA reports the UCI “has been criticised for accepting a cash donation" from Armstrong. The UCI has “admitted accepting a donation of more than $100,000 from Armstrong in 2002, but has strongly denied that it was connected to any cover-up of a positive test” (PA, 10/16).

STAGING A MILD PROTEST: CYCLINGNEWS.com's Pat Malach reports former pro cyclist Paul Willerton and a "small group of athletes and cycling fans plan to show up" at Nike HQs in Beaverton, Ore., today to "protest the company's continuing support" for Armstrong. Willerton said that he is "proud of the steps cycling is taking to clean itself out and up, which makes Nike's steadfast refusal to step away from Armstrong all the more frustrating." Willerton said of the evidence from USADA: "Nike's position -- they're so influential -- and right now they're just sitting on the wrong side of this" (CYCLINGNEWS.com, 10/16).

TEAR DOWN THE WALL: YAHOO SPORTS’ Martin Rogers wrote under the header, “KC Soccer Stadium Needs To Drop Livestrong Name After Lance Armstrong Scandal.” When MLS Sporting K.C. last year adopted the Livestrong name for its stadium, it "did so for the right reasons and its hierarchy knew nothing of the extraordinary level of corruption and malfeasance the organization's founder, Lance Armstrong, would be accused of by his friends, colleagues, employees and a national anti-drug agency.” But it is now “time for a change.” Sporting K.C. “needs to get rid of the Livestrong name, and don't think for a moment that by doing so it would be turning its back on cancer in any way.” Sporting K.C. CEO Robb Heineman is a “forward-thinking executive and a good man, but he and his associates are making the wrong call here” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/15).
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