Foundation, Sponsor Stands by Armstrong in Wake of USADA Report

 

8208441

Defending Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins said Thursday he was shocked by the mountain of evidence compiled against Lance Armstrong, calling it "jaw-dropping" that as many as 11 former teammates testified against the sporting icon.

But Wiggins, who finished fourth to the American's third in the 2009 race, said he wasn't surprised by the conclusion of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency: that Armstrong cheated his way to a record seven Tour championships by using banned substances and deftly evading tests that would have exposed him.

"It's certainly not a one-sided hatchet job," Wiggins told Britain's Sky News of USADA's 1,000-page report detailing Armstrong's role in a wide-spread doping conspiracy while the star rider of the U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team.

Nonetheless, Armstrong's highest-profile corporate backer, Nike, stood by him this week, re-issuing the statement of support it offered when USADA announced Aug. 24 it was stripping Armstrong of his Tour victories and banning him from the sport following the cyclist's refusal to confront the charges against him in arbitration.

But according to several marketing experts, Armstrong may well lose his handsome corporate backing from Nike, Anheuser-Busch, Trek and others once existing contracts expire. And given the damning details USADA has compiled — the first-hand accounts that he not only used banned substances but also demanded fellow riders use them, too, in support of his quest for titles — Armstrong likely won't forge any new corporate deals.

"If you're a corporation and you're selling truth and you're selling performance — and not just the outcome of performance, but clean performance in a competition that's based on rules and rules and values — I think you've got a problem on your hands," said David Carter, executive director of the Sports Business Institute at Southern California, of the companies with ties to Armstrong.

"They may let those contracts lapse, rather than cut him immediately. They may choose not to feature him [in advertising or promotional campaigns] until the contracts run out. But for anyone to align with him now, it wouldn't make a lot of sense until the smoke clears."

Paul Swangard, managing director of the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, said he suspects Armstrong's future marketability is "forever reduced" by the disclosures in the USADA document, which include threats against those in position to testify against him.

"Brands forge partnerships with athletes for the benefit of shared equity," Swangard said, "and Lance as a brand is probably just not worth the trouble for anyone who is not currently attached to him."

Although Armstrong's unprecedented streak of Tour de France victories has been dogged by allegations of cheating for years, the events of the past two months represent a stunning fall for an athlete who raised cycling's profile globally and transcended his sport.

The weight of evidence USADA presented this week to the International Cycling Union, which governs the sport, was overwhelming in its detail and specificity. And it was made more credible by the athletes who came forward, such as George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer, who confessed their own part in doping while providing information about Armstrong's role in what USADA characterized as a team-wide doping conspiracy. They're among five cyclists who will serve a six-month ban as a result, a relatively light punishment in exchange for their testimony.

That said, donations to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which has raised $480 million on behalf of cancer victims since it was founded in 1997, are running at almost twice normal levels since the cyclist was banned from competition in August, according to Katherine McLane, the foundation's vice president for communications and external affairs. Moreover, the number of patients and families seeking help negotiating treatment options, insurance and other matters is up 15 percent in that time.

"These issues have been in the news not just since August 24th but for many, many years," McLane said. "The Lance Armstrong Foundation has existed within this climate, so it's nothing new for us and nothing new for our corporate sponsors. . . . We have seen no loss of support on a constituent level of anything like that."

If it seems like a paradox, it makes sense to Ashley McCown, president of Solomon McCown & Company, a Boston-based public-relations firm that specializes in crisis communications.

Armstrong is "a brand unto himself," in McCown's view, because his athletic achievements have been intertwined with his victory over testicular cancer and his 15-year crusade to use the platform of his sporting triumphs to help others battling cancer.

So McCown wasn't surprised to find so much fervent support for Armstrong in surveying social media in the wake of the release of the USADA report.

"He won the Tour de France after he beat cancer," McCown noted. "You put those two together, and it's phenomenal. It's inspirational to so many people. . . . People have separated the personal choices he has made around doping from the good work he has done for cancer victims."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Auditor

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: IT Auditor , Information Governance, NHS...

Process Improvement Analyst (Testing)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Service Delivery Manager - Derivatives, Support,

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Delivery Manager - (Derivatives, Support...

WPF .NET Developer

£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: WPF Analyst Programmer NET, WPF, C#, M...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform