Lance Armstrong’s admission of guilt regarding his doping struck deep for a lot of people. Armstrong, a cancer survivor, inspired millions of people with his recovery and establishment of what was known as the Lance Armstrong Foundation for cancer research and support. Additionally, his dominance over the Tour de France race gave hope to cancer sufferers and survivors everywhere – until his indictment in 2012 and acknowledgement of culpability the following year that he had taken performance enhancing drugs while competitively cycling.
Armstrong’s tale of overcoming cancer and reaching the heights of sports accomplishment was gold to Nike, who became one of his sponsors in 2004. The partnership between Nike, Armstrong and his charity raised over $500 million, of which $100 million went to Nike. Armstrong’s celebrity status and the visibility of his Livestrong foundation – known for its yellow wristbands worn by cyclists and politicians and rock stars around the world – became a global symbol for the fight against cancer, championed by Lance Armstrong.
But after a decade of allegations that he had taken performance enhancing drugs, encouraged other riders to take such drugs, and systematically denied having taken drugs, the facade fell apart in 2012 when Armstrong was officially accused of the above by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. He was banned for life, stripped of all his Tour de France medals, and abandoned by his sponsors – including Nike. Armstrong estimated he lost $75 million from the fallout.
Livestrong and Nike Part Ways
Nike was probably the biggest of the sponsors to drop Armstrong. On May 28th, the sports apparel company announced that it was amicably parting ways with Livestrong foundation, thereby completely washing its hands of anything to do with Lance Armstrong. Nike has a contract with the Livestrong foundation through 2014, which the company intends on honoring; but after the 2013 holiday season, Nike will no longer manufacture or produce any Livestrong or Armstrong-related products.
For their part, Livestrong thanked Nike for a long and prosperous partnership that helped millions of cancer survivors and patients the world over. The foundation said that their operations will continue, and that they anticipated any financial hit over the loss of Nike as a sponsor. Armstrong, who resigned chairman of the board of the Livestrong foundation in October 2012, was not mentioned or referenced.
Other Companies That Have Provided For Those With Cancer
Despite Armstrong’s persona non grata status in the cancer charity world, the work he started with Nike and Livestrong has inspired other companies to raise the mantle for cancer research and support. Breast cancer awareness is one of the most popular and visible fights, and companies like Yoplait and KitchenAid have donated proceeds from events and walks to notable cancer support organizations such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Additionally, Delta Airlines expressed their support for breast cancer awareness by painting one of their planes pink. Panera bread’s “pink ribbon bagels” raised $1.3 million for breast cancer in a single year.