LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Nike has ended its branding partnership with Lance Armstrong’s anti-cancer charity Livestrong.
“Nike has made the decision to stop producing new Livestrong product after its Holiday 2013 line,” Nike’s KeJuan Wilkins said in a statement. “We will continue to support the Livestrong Foundation by funding them directly as they continue their work serving and improving outcomes for people facing cancer.”
The Austin, Texas-based Livestrong Foundation thanked the global sportswear giant Nike — which broke all ties with Armstrong himself last October — saying it had helped raise over $100 million since 2004. According to sources cited by ESPN.com, Nike sold more than $150 million in Livestrong-branded product in 2012, its biggest year ever.
“The Livestrong Foundation is deeply grateful to Nike not only for the time and resources it invested in helping us improve the lives of people affected by cancer today, but also the creative drive it brought to our nine-year partnership,” read a statement posted on the foundation’s website. “While the foundation created and owns the Livestrong brand, Nike shone a spotlight on the spirit of courage and resilience it represents. Since 2004, Nike helped raise more than $100 million to advance the Foundation’s mission. Together, we created new, revolutionary ways of thinking about how non-profits fuel their mission and we’re proud of that.”
The charity downplayed the potential impact on Livestrong, saying: “This news will prompt some to jump to negative conclusions about the foundation’s future. We see things quite differently. We expected and planned for changes like this and are therefore in a good position to adjust swiftly and move forward with our patient-focused work. Because of our sound fiscal health, the foundation is well-positioned to continue to grow our free services for cancer patients and survivors that improve quality of life and access to care.”
Armstrong was an inspirational figure for millions after recovering from testicular cancer and then winning the world’s most celebrated cycling event, the Tour de France, seven times in a row. Armstrong saw most of his personal sponsors discontinue their relationships with him after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency published the reasoned decision in its doping case against the Texan. Along with Nike, Giro, Trek, Anheuser-Busch, and RadioShack distanced Armstrong, who admitted to using performance enhancing drugs and methods during a television interview with Oprah Winfrey in January.