Nike to stand by Lance Armstrong despite fall from grace

Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:15am EDT

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(Reuters) - Nike Inc plans to continue to support Lance Armstrong even after the seven-time Tour de France cycling champion is stripped of his titles for deciding to no longer fight charges of doping, while bicycle maker Trek is analyzing the situation.

"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.

Late on Thursday, Armstrong said he would no longer fight allegations from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that he cheated throughout his career by using performance enhancing drugs.

"Enough is enough," said Armstrong, a cancer survivor considered one of the all-time greats in his sport, in a statement.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced it would strip Armstrong of his titles and ban him from competitive cycling.

Nike, the world's biggest sportswear maker, is a longtime supporter of Armstrong and Livestrong, his organization to help cancer survivors and raise money for cancer research.

Since 2004, Nike has helped Livestrong raise over $100 million and created the Livestrong yellow wristbands that became a global phenomenon with over 84 million bands distributed.

Trek Bicycle Corp has sponsored Armstrong since 1999 and sponsors the Radio Shack Nissan Trek team at the Tour de France.

The Wisconsin-based bike company said it is monitoring developments. It has not pulled its sponsorship of Armstrong in the triathlons he has done or other bike rides.

Trek also sells Livestrong branded bikes.

(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Chicago and Phil Wahba in New York; Writing by Martinne Geller in New York; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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