NEW YORK, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Nike Inc said on Monday it has no plan to run future ads using Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, charged with murdering his girlfriend, after the South African became the sporting goods maker’s latest sponsored athlete to face trouble.
“Nike has no plans for Oscar Pistorius in upcoming campaigns,” KeJuan Wilkins, a Nike spokesman, said in an email.
Nike is once again dealing with a publicity problem stemming from a sponsored celebrity. Others include NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who pleaded guilty in 2007 to dog-fighting charges; Olympic runner Marion Jones, who was convicted of lying to a grand jury about her use of performance-enhancing drugs; and Tiger Woods, who faced a torrent of bad press and issued a public apology for well-publicized extramarital affairs.
Last year, Nike dropped cyclist Lance Armstrong after he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life for doping.
Pistorius, known worldwide as the “Blade Runner” for his prosthetic legs, was formally accused last week in South Africa of the premeditated shooting of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a charge that could put him behind bars for life if he is convicted.
Pistorius, a double amputee, became one of the most recognized figures in world athletics last year when he reached the semi-final of the men’s 400-metres at the London 2012 Olympics.
He was born without a fibula in either lower leg, and underwent a double amputation as an 11-month-old baby. Running on a pair of high-technology carbon fiber prosthetic “blades”, he smashed Paralympic world records and went on to compete against able-bodied athletes at the highest levels.