Nike out, who next?
Written by: Dan Empfield
Date: Wed Oct 17 2012
"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. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner. Nike plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer."
This still leaves Armstrong with a bevy of endemic sponsors, which include Trek, SRAM, Oakley, Giro, FRS, and Honey Stinger. Any decisions that need to be made by SRAM and Honey Stinger are not as straightforward, because Armstrong is an investor in each.
Trek, and by association Bontrager, are the brands under the most pressure to make a decision on Armstrong, as that association has been instrumental in the success of the Trek brand over the past decade and a half. Indeed, doping-related anti-Armstrong comments made by America’s other great cycling legend, Greg Lemond, caused a rift between Trek and Lemond, and that rift, and litigation contemporaneous with it, seemed at least proximate to Trek’s decision to drop the Lemond brand of bicycles from its line-up.
Nike’s decision to continue with its sponsorship of Armstrong until this late date is the second doping-related image issue it’s had to face this year, among those in the endemic running community. The popular LetsRun forum has been scathing in its criticism of banned doping coach Mark Block’s presence in Nike’s sky box at the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials.
This is not an inconsiderable market, even for a company with $20 billion in sales. In North America alone, the market for technical running shoes in triathlon is estimated by Slowtwitch to be in excess of $600 million at wholesale.
SRAM has announced that Armstrong no longer owns shares in the company. Armstrong first invested in SRAM roughly contemporaneous with that company's circa-$500 million infusion from Lehman Brothers. SRAM spokesmen said that those shares have been repurchased in anticipation of a public offering.
The previously published edition of this story with all the tweets and facebook comments is right here: slowtwitch.com/News/Nike_out_who_next__3168.html
The UCI and the ASO have agreed to strip Armstrong of Tour titles. Oakley dropped Armstrong today, and SCA Promotions has just sent a demand letter asking for $7.5 million. 10.22.12
For some weeks I have been receiving calls and emails urging me to express my view on Lance Armstrong (to these I say, be careful what you ask for). After considerable deliberation, here it is. 10.26.12
You have been the topic of endless discussions and merely mentioning your name has turned friends against each other, and this editor actually just wished that you would stay away from cycling and triathlon. 1.14.13
USADA handed its Armstrong file to the UCI, along with a press statement naming 11 riders who testified against Armstrong, including several who're finishing up their 2013 seasons, and will now face suspensions and disqualifications. 10.10.12
We're at the beginning of what may be another momentous news week in the Armstrong doping affair, this publisher of this online magazine expresses his views on doping. 10.01.12