miércoles, 17 de octubre de 2012
Lance Armstrong fired by Nike, leaves as Livestrong chairman
Nike has fired Lance Armstrong and will take his name off the Lance Armstrong Fitness Center at its world headquarters, the company said in a statement Wednesday morning.
The statement came the same morning that Armstrong announced he was stepping down as chairman of his cancer-fighting charity, the Livestrong foundation, to "spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career."
Pedaling on: Amid doping controversy, Livestrong continues
Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman told USA TODAY Sports Wednesday that to his knowledge the decision by Nike was "totally unrelated" to Armstrong's decision to step down as Livestrong chairman. Ulman said Armstrong informed him of his decision to step down as chairman on Monday and that he notified the foundation's board Tuesday night.
"He just made it clear that foundation was his first and foremost priority aside from his family and that he did not want to ever harm our work in any way," Ulman said. "He just said he wanted the best thing possible for the foundation."
Ulman said Armstrong still will participate in the foundation's events, including this weekend when it celebrates its 15th anniversary in Austin, Texas. Ulman called it a "governance decision" by Armstrong to help the foundation avoid distractions involving doping allegations against him. Livestrong said Armstrong's term as founding director has no expiration.
"My family and I have devoted our lives to the work of the foundation and that will not change," Armstrong's statement said. "We plan to continue our service to the foundation and the cancer community. We will remain active advocates for cancer survivors and engaged supporters of the fight against cancer. And we look forward to an exciting weekend of activities marking the 15th anniversary of the foundation's creation."
Jeff Garvey, Livestrong's vice chairman, will replace Armstrong as chairman.
The Nike and Livestrong moves come one week after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a massive file of evidence against Armstrong that said he used banned drugs and blood transfusions to gain an advantage throughout his cycling career.
"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," Nike said in a statement. "Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner."
Armstrong has denied doping accusations but declined to fight USADA's charges against him in an arbitration hearing, saying the process was a "witch hunt" against him. He said he never failed a drug test, but USADA's evidence contained several witness statements about how he and his teammates used sophisticated methods to avoid testing positive in those tests.
In August, USADA banned him for life and stripped him of his seven titles in the Tour de France after he declined to fight the charges in arbitration. Nike said it plans to "continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer."
Formally named the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Livestrong was founded in 1997 after Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996.
Nike developed Livestrong's iconic yellow silicone wristbands, made in China and a ubiquitous symbol of the foundation's mission to help cancer survivors. Since 2004, more than 80 million wristbands have been distributed worldwide. Ulman said LIvestrong has a contract with a manufacturer in China to produce the bracelets and has a partnership with Nike for the company's "Swoosh" logo to appear on the packaging. He said that relationship will not be affected. Nike notified Ulman of its decision Tuesday night.
Armstrong's statement said Livestrong and its supporters "are incredibly dear to my heart."
"I have had the great honor of serving as this foundation's chairman for the last five years and its mission and success are my top priorities," the statement said. "Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship."
Since Aug. 23, when Armstrong announced he would not fight USADA's charges, Ulman said Livestrong donations are up about 8 percent from the same period in 2011, up to about $3.4 million. The number of individual donations are down about 3 percent over the same period, Ulman said.
Since the evidence was released last week, Ulman said Armstrong had hinted at the possibility of stepping down as chairman.
"He asked for opinions of various people and came to the conclusion that until things settle down, it was more important to put the mission first," Ulman said.
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