October 17, 2012
WASHINGTON (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) -- Lance Armstrong on Wednesday stepped down as chairman of his cancer charity Livestrong and had his contract with American sports goods makers Nike terminated in the wake of accusations that the seven-times Tour de France champion was guilty of doping on a major scale.
"To spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship," said Armstrong in a statement issued by Livestrong.
Nike said in its statement: "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."
The United States Anti-Doping Agency USADA said last week in a 1,000-page report that Armstrong led "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen" between 1999 and 2005.
Armstrong has not challenged the USADA verdict under which he is to be stripped of his seven Tour titles, with the final saying to come from the ruling cycling body UCI.
Armstrong denied doping and never tested positive. But USADA acted after years of speculation and testimony from various former team-mates of Armstrong that he (and others) used the blood booster EPO, the steroid testosterone and other substances on a big scale.
The retired Armstrong won his seven Tour titles between 1999 and 2005 after returning from treatment of cancer that was diagnosed in 1996.
He launched the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1997 and Livestrong was set up in 2003 to support cancer patients. Livestrong has raised close to 500 million dollars over the years.
Nike were one of Livesprong's sponsors since 2004 and invented the popular yellow wristband associated with Livestrong, which will now have former vice chairman Jeff Garvey promoted to chairman.
Nike said it will continue to support Livestrong, but is now no longer one of Armstrong's main corporate sponsors -- after originally backing him amid the growing doping accusations.
"Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner," Nike said.
Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH