Monday, October 22, 2012
Oakley drops Lance Armstrong
By Darren Rovell ESPN.com
In less than a week, Lance Armstrong has lost all of his endorsement deals.
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The decision by the International Cycling Union (UCI) on Monday to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour De France titles, bolstered by the recent report of a performance-enhancing drug scheme by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, was the last straw for his final remaining sponsor, Oakley.
"Based on UCI's decision today and the overwhelming evidence that USADA presented, Oakley has severed its longstanding relationship with Lance Armstrong, effective immediately," the company said in a statement. "When Lance joined our family many years ago, he was a symbol of possibility. We are deeply saddened by the outcome, but look forward with hope to athletes and teams of the future who will rekindle that inspiration by racing clean, fair and honest."
The dominoes started to fall on Wednesday when Nike said it would terminate the cyclist's contract moments after he announced that he would step down as chairman of his foundation.
That same day, he lost his deals with Trek bicycles, Giro helmets, 24-Hour Fitness and Anheuser-Busch. Radio Shack was more vague, saying that the company had "no current obligations" with Armstrong. Two companies that Armstrong has a stake in, Honey Stinger and FRS, said they would remove him from their packaging.
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The following day, his contract with bicycle part company SRAM was severed.
These deals conservatively represented $35 million in future earnings for Armstrong, a source said.
The only athlete who saw anything close to Armstrong was Tiger Woods. After his infidelity scandal, Woods lost half his endorsements. The golfer was dropped by Gatorade, AT&T and watch maker Tag Heuer. Gillette said it would not renew his deal. Nike, Upper Deck, NetJets and EA Sports, however, continued to stand by his side.
Several companies, including Oakley, said that they would continue to support the Livestrong initiative. Nike and Johnson Health Tech, which has the Livestrong brand on its fitness equipment, said it will continue to sell items with Livestrong on it.
Oakley is owned by Italian company Luxottica Group SpA.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.