SBD/August 14, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

PED Scandals Damage Track & Field Sponsorships, But Bolt Continues To Thrive

Warner is among athletes who hope he is not hurt by other's transgressions
A recent series of PED scandals among U.S. and Jamaican track and field stars "threatens the sponsorship landscape for both the sport and its athletes," according to Morgan Campbell of the TORONTO STAR. Canadian decathlete Damian Warner, who won bronze at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships on Sunday, has a "modest endorsement portfolio" that "includes a deal with Nike and smaller local companies." Warner said, "Just because a couple people are doing the wrong thing, you shouldn’t punish everybody else." Agent Kris Mychasiw said, "Major meets are losing key partnerships, making it tougher for athletes to make money (since) less funds are available. Only the top of the top make anything." Campbell notes top-level track "grappled with sponsorship dilemmas even before the summer drug scandals." If the sport "can’t shake the perception that many top stars are drug cheats, sponsorship dollars for athletes and events might grow even scarcer." Meanwhile, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt "still prospers as a pitchman." Forbes data shows that Bolt pulls in $24M annually in endorsements, a figure that includes a deal he signed with Samsung earlier this year. But Samsung, shortly after signing Bolt, announced that it "wouldn’t renew its title sponsorship of track and field’s premier circuit, the Diamond League," a deal worth $4.5M annually (TORONTO STAR, 8/14).

MR. CLEAN: In Australia, Robert Craddock wrote Bolt's "greatest future responsibility to his sport is not winning so much as another race but never returning a positive drug test." He alone "generates more than 20 per cent of the sport’s sponsorship." If he "stumbled and fell then the whole sport would end up face down in the sandpit" (Brisbane COURIER-MAIL, 8/13).
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