COLORADO SPRINGS, CO—Lance Armstrong’s lifetime ban from sport for doping may have relatively little affect on the retired athlete’s standings in the bike industry, as several of his longtime sponsors are continuing to support him and his foundation.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in August stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France victories and other winnings after Armstrong decided not to contest USADA’s charges that he doped during his career.
A defiant Armstrong continued to deny he doped and said USADA’s prosecution was an “unconstitutional witch hunt.”
Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position. Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation — Nike
"The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense," he said.
Armstrong linked to his statement from his Twitter account, telling his 3.7 million Twitter followers that it was his response to USADA's "pitiful charade."
But USADA, in a statement, left little wiggle room, saying the case was over and declaring flatly that Armstrong was being sanctioned for doping and involvement in a doping conspiracy.
“When given the opportunity to challenge the evidence against him, and with full knowledge of the consequences, Mr. Armstrong chose not to contest the fact that he engaged in doping violations from at least August 1, 1998 and participated in a conspiracy to cover up his actions,” a USADA statement read.
USADA had said it had 10 witnesses ready to testify that they had knowledge of Armstrong's doping. Just a few days before Armstrong’s announcement, a federal judge in Texas threw out Armstrong's case that tried to claim USADA did not have jurisdiction and would not protect his rights.
So far, none of Armstrong’s sponsors have said publicly that they would pull their support.
Nike, one of Armstrong’s longest standing sponsors, said it would continue to support Armstrong and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
“Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position. Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation that Lance created to serve cancer survivors,” Nike said in a prepared statement.
Trek officials did not release a statement but reportedly are “monitoring the situation,” according to the Reuters news organization.
Giro also said it was sticking by Armstrong. “Our relationship with Lance Armstrong remains unchanged. Giro continues to support Livestrong®and believes in the organization’s mission to improve the lives of people affected by cancer.”
Oakley had a similar statement: “As Lance’s longtime supporter and partner, Oakley respects his decision and his restated commitment to focus on the Foundation he created to help battle cancer. He has inspired many and the Foundation is an example of his work. Oakley will continue to support The Lance Armstrong Foundation, and as we have stated in the past, Oakley supports its athletes who respect and honor the ethics of sports until proven otherwise”
Honey Stinger, a Colorado sports nutrition company that Armstrong has invested in, said it will stand by Armstrong and his cause.
"Lance Armstrong is a member of our ownership team and he has played an important part in Honey Stinger's growth," Honey Stinger’s Len Zanni said. "We look forward to working with him in this capacity to help increase our sales and build our brand. Additionally, we will continue our support of the Lance Armstrong Foundation as a sponsor of the Livestrong Challenge Series.”
The case is likely over, for now, but the UCI has the option to appeal Armstrong's penalty to the Court for Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. Amaury Sport Organization, the owner of the Tour de France, said it would not act or comment immediately on the situation. ASO said it was waiting until USADA and the UCI had completely settled the case.