South African TV pulls Pistorius ads

Updated: February 14, 2013, 3:08 PM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

South African TV station M-Net on Thursday said it would stop running its ads that use Oscar Pistorius to promote its broadcast of the Oscars on Feb. 23. The move came as news of the arrest of Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius in connection with the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, sent ripples through the business world.

"Out of respect and sympathy to the bereaved, M-Net will be pulling its entire Oscar campaign featuring Oscar Pistorius with immediate effect," a Twitter account run by the station tweeted on Thursday.

One man posted a picture of construction workers already taking down a billboard for the campaign from the side of a road in Johannesburg.

Pistorius, a double below-knee amputee, made history after he had his selection confirmed on the South African Olympic team at the last minute. By virtue of his inclusion, he competed in the 2012 London Olympics in the 400 meters and on South Africa's 4x400 relay team using carbon fiber blades in place of legs. He also retained his Paralympic title in the 400 meters in London.

His inspirational story gave him hero status and resulted in sponsorship deals with the likes of Nike and Oakley.

He was wearing an Oakley sweatshirt when he was taken by police. Oakley representatives later issued a statement.

"We are shocked to hear the news and our thoughts are with their families. Given that the matter is under investigation and out of respect for all involved, we will refrain from making any further comments at this time."

Nike, which sponsors Pistorius, released the following statement.

"Nike extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to all families concerned following this tragic incident. As it is a police matter, Nike will not comment further at this time."

British Telecom, another Pistorius sponsor, told the Wall Street Journal it was "shocked by this terrible, tragic news" and would "await the outcome of the South African police investigation."

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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