Organizations Resources

Nike Parts Ways With Livestrong

IMG: Matt Beckwith via Flickr

Nike on Tuesday announced a sad but unsurprising end to its partnership with Livestrong Foundation. The sportswear company has long supported the cancer research foundation, selling Livestrong gear, yellow wristbands, and of course supporting its star athlete and founder: Lance Armstrong.

But since Armstrong’s doping scandal hit the fan last year, the repercussions have been lining up around the block. After admitting systematic use of performance-enhancing drugs (which he had denied for years), the cyclist was disgraced—he lost all seven of his Tour de France titles, all of his sponsors, his reputation, and his place on the Livestrong board.

Armstrong founded the charity in 1997 after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He fought hard and won his battle against cancer, and created the foundation to help others do the same. Over the years, the partnership with Nike alone has raised over $100 million. But that’s all changed now.

“We expected changes like this,” said Livestrong spokesperson Katherine McLane. “Could there be fallout? Of course,” she said. “We remain enormously confident… We are in strong fiscal shape.”

Armstrong stepped down from the board in October 2012 and admitted to drug use in January. His parting of ways with the foundation was done as a way to reduce repercussions on the charity because of Armstrong’s association with it. It has likely saved the organization from some, but certainly not all, consequences of his disgrace.

Nike had previously removed its sponsorship of Armstrong in the midst of the doping scandal, but said it would continue to support the foundation. But now things seem to have changed, and Nike’s partnership will end at the end of the 2013 holiday season. Sad but likely is that they simply want to move past their long history of being associated with Lance Armstrong.