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After Nike drops Lance Armstrong: Other athletes who've been cut

October 18, 2012|By Shan Li | This post has been corrected. See below for details.
  • Lance Armstrong is not the only athlete to lose an endorsement deal.
Lance Armstrong is not the only athlete to lose an endorsement deal. (Joel Davis / Associated…)

Sports giant Nike, beer-maker Anheuser-Busch and electronics chain RadioShack all will sever their ties with Lance Armstrong in the wake of a damning report last week that put the cyclist allegedly at the center of a sophisticated doping program.

Nike released a statement on Wednesday saying that "with great sadness ... we have terminated our contract with him."

Nike's decision came “due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade,” the company said. “Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in any manner.”

The strangest business sponsorships

But Armstrong is not the first athlete who has lost lucrative endorsement deals following peccadilloes in their personal or professional lives.

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant lost several sponsors in 2003 after the basketball player was accused of sexually assaulting a teenager in Colorado. Prosecutors eventually dropped the case after the young woman refused to testify, but Coca-Cola and McDonald's dropped Bryant.

Mere months after the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, swimmer Michael Phelps lost cereal king Kellogg after photos surfaced showing the gold medalist smoking from a marijuana pipe. “Michael’s most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg,” the company said in a statement at the time.

Boxing star Mike Tyson had a long-standing relationship with beverage maker Pepsi. That unraveled following a series of incidents, including accusations of spousal abuse and a car accident where Tyson tried to give his Bentley away to police officers. Toyota, Suntory Beer and USA Today all cut their ties with the heavyweight champion.

For Armstrong, who also stepped down Wednesday from his charity Livestrong Foundation, losing Nike alone means his wallet will take a huge hit. The athlete may also see lucrative speaking engagements dry up.

Nike has dealt with troubled spokespeople in the past. The Penn State molestation scandal prompted the company to rename its Joe Paterno Child Development Center. Nike dropped football quarterback Michael Vick after his plea agreement on dogfighting charges (but re-signed him last year).

[For the Record, 9:59 a.m. Oct. 18: The headline on an earlier version of this post referred to Neil Armstrong. As the text of the post says, Nike cut ties with Lance Armstrong.]

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