The end was swift and concise. In a statement this morning, Nike terminated its contract with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. In a separate press release by Armstrong himself, he announced his departure from the LIVESTRONG organization, a charity he helped to create. The anti-climactic conclusion came about as the United States Anti-Doping Agency publicly released a slew of evidence against Armstrong a week ago. A total of 26 people testified--including 11 teammates of Armstrong--during the agency's investigation. What the investigation revealed was quite damning. In what the investigators' report called "the most sophisticated doping program in recent sports history," Armstrong not only doped himself, but supplied and even acted as an enabler in some cases so he could win titles.
Known for its past loyalty to controversial athletes, such as Tiger Woods after his extramarital scandal and Kobe Bryant during the allegation of sexual assault against him, Nike's unwavering support of Armstrong came to a halt after what it called "seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade." But, the company will continue its support of the LIVESTRONG organization and its anti-cancer initiatives.
Photography by: Brooke McMillan
Lance Armstrong to Step Down as Chairman of LIVESTRONG
Lance Armstrong, founder and chairman of LIVESTRONG, made the following announcement today regarding his status as chairman of the cancer non-profit organization's board of directors:
"In 1996, as my cancer treatment was drawing to an end, I created a foundation to serve people affected by cancer. It has been a great privilege to help grow it from a dream into an organization that today has served 2.5 million people and helped spur a cultural shift in how the world views cancer survivors. This organization, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart.
"I am deeply grateful to the people of the foundation who have done such hard and excellent work over the last 15 years, building tangible and effective ways to improve the lives of cancer survivors. And I am deeply humbled by the support our foundation has received from so many people throughout the world survivors, world leaders, business leaders and of course, the cancer community itself. We turn to this community frequently for guidance and collaboration to achieve our shared goals. They are unfailingly generous with their wisdom and counsel and I can never thank them enough.
"I have had the great honor of serving as this foundation's chairman for the last five years and its mission and success are my top priorities. Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.
"My duties will transfer to Vice Chairman Jeff Garvey who will serve as chairman. Jeff's guidance and wisdom have been critical to shaping the foundation's work since its earliest days. Jeff was this organization's founding chairman and I have full confidence that under his leadership, the foundation will continue expanding its ability to serve cancer survivors.
"My family and I have devoted our lives to the work of the foundation and that will not change. We plan to continue our service to the foundation and the cancer community. We will remain active advocates for cancer survivors and engaged supporters of the fight against cancer. And we look forward to an exciting weekend of activities marking the 15th anniversary of the foundation's creation."
"Long before he became a household name, Lance Armstrong created a foundation to serve others facing the same fears and challenges he struggled to overcome as a result of his cancer diagnosis," said Doug Ulman, LIVESTRONG President and CEO. "Today, thanks to Lance's leadership, that foundation has had the privilege of raising close to $500 million to serve people affected by cancer.
"Lance has made this foundation and its cause aiding people whose lives have been touched by this disease his life's work. His leadership in the cancer community has spurred immeasurable progress and it has been a great privilege to work shoulder to shoulder with him on a daily basis during his chairmanship.
"We are grateful to Jeff Garvey for assuming the responsibilities of chairman. Jeff has been a guiding presence for LIVESTRONG for 15 years and we look forward to a seamless transition under his leadership and a continued strong focus on our core values and mission.
"Lance's devotion to serving others whose lives were irrevocably changed by cancer, as his was, is unsurpassable. We are incredibly proud of his record as an advocate and philanthropist and are deeply grateful that Lance and his family will continue to be actively involved with the Foundation's advocacy and service work. We look forward to celebrating 15 years of progress with Lance and his family this weekend and recommitting ourselves to the work of the cancer community for the years ahead."