Nike, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) is distancing itself even further from Lance Armstrong by announcing the dissolution of its partnership with the charity Armstrong helped start, the Livestrong Foundation. Nike will discontinue its line of Livestrong-branded products by the end of this year.
The partnership proved fruitful for Livestrong, as Nike sold $150 million of its products last year, its most ever. The Livestrong Foundation made more than 87 million of its $1 yellow rubber wristbands since May 2004, through which Nike helped raise more than $100 million for the foundation.
Though Nike is ready to give up Livestrong’s business, it is still committed to supporting the program by funding it directly. Amid rumors that Nike has been responsible for helping Armstrong cover up his past of using performance-enhancing drugs, the company is eager to to further dissociate itself from Armstrong and his foundation. ESPN explains that in 2006, Kathy LeMond, wife of cyclist Greg LeMond, said under oath that Nike paid $500,000 to a former International Cycling Union (NYSE:UCI) president to cover up a failed drug test. Nike officials said it never happened.
This is certainly not the first deal to drop Armstrong or the Livestrong Foundation. Since October, when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency accused him of running the most intricate performance-enhancing drug scheme in history, he has not only been stripped of his Tour de France titles and banned from sanctioned events, but he has also lost all his endorsement deals, including those with Trek, Oakley, and Michelob Ultra. According to sources, Nike may have been his most lucrative, paying him up to $40 million.
In a statement released Tuesday, the foundation said, ”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.”