Sponsors begin to sever ties with Lance Armstrong

Sponsors are beginning to sever ties with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who is currently embattled in a growing drug controversy.

Early Wednesday morning Nike Inc. said it would no longer support Armstrong, citing “insurmountable evidence that he participated in doping and misled [it] about those activities for more than a decade” as the reason for the decision, according to a release.

“Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner,” it said.

The announcement came just minutes after Armstrong announced that he would be stepping down as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation, a charity he created to help fight cancer–a disease he almost succumbed to before his miraculous seven-tour winning streak.

Hours after the Nike announcement, Anheuser-Busch Cos., the maker of Budweiser beer, said it would not renew its relationship with Armstrong at the end of this year, according to Reuters.

RadioShack Corp., the electronics retailer that began sponsoring Armstrong in 2009, also dissociated
itself from Armstrong on Wednesday, confirming to many news organizations that it does not currently support Armstrong, according to reports.

The latest blows to the Kingdom of Armstrong come a week after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a 1,000-page document revealing what it called a “a massive team doping scheme, more extensive than any previously revealed in professional sports history” that it said Armstrong used to help him win his seven titles.

The document was based partly on the testimony of 26 witnesses, 11 of whom were former teammates of Armstrong’s, as well as “direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data, and laboratory test results that further prove the use, possession, and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong and confirm the disappointing truth about the deceptive activities of the USPS Team, a team that received tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars in funding,” according to USADA.

After the USADA bombshell, many of Armstrong’s teammates released statements admitting they had doped during their cycling careers, even though many of them had never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

The USADA report came after Tyler Hamilton, a former teammate of Armstrong’s who was disgraced after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2004, released a tell-all book about his years in the European peloton. The book revealed the seedy underbelly of cycling in graphic, no nonsense prose, even detailing the tricks cyclists would use to pass drug tests while they were using. Hamilton has said in many interviews that he passed hundreds of drug tests that he shouldn’t have.

Photo courtesy Getty Images, AFP