AUSTIN, TX (BRAIN) — Nike will stop manufacturing Livestrong-branded products following the 2013 holiday season, ending a nine-year relationship that has pumped more than $100 million into the nonprofit founded by Lance Armstrong.
Nike said that while it would end the product line, it would continue to fund the organization directly. But the company did not say how much support it would give to the organization, and a Livestrong statement made clear that it was expecting considerably less funding than it received from the Livestrong licensing deal.
"This news will prompt some to jump to negative conclusions about the Foundation's future," a Livestrong statement released Tuesday said. "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."
"We are proud of the collective efforts between Nike and the Livestrong Foundation to raise more than $100 million to help people with cancer, distributing 87 million Livestrong wristbands and serving and improving health outcomes for more than 2.5 million people with free cancer support services, programs, tools and resources," Nike said Tuesday in a company statement.
The move comes four months after Armstrong confessed to doping, in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey. Since then, Armstrong's public reputation has continued to plummet as he has taken a defensive posture rather than following through with promised reconciliation and openness. An exception has been Armstrong's cooperation this spring with Garmin-Sharp team president Jonathan Vaughters. As reported by VeloNews.com, the two former teammates and longtime rivals have been communicating about the need for more openness about past doping in the race community.