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Nike, 7 Sponsors to Lance Armstrong: 'Just Suck It!'
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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If another famous athlete falls in the woods cramping from a misplaced steroid shot, would anyone hear it? Typically not any more. And then, there's the story of Lance Armstrong. He was America's golden boy. You remember? Won the Tour de France seven times in a row. Beat cancer twice. Created LIVESTRONG, arguably one of the most influential non-profits of this generation. And now, he's a washed-up version of his yellow self. 

One week following the dump truck of evidence that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) dropped off at Lance's house, seven sponsors have cut ties with Lance, most notably, 24-Hour Fitness, Anheuser-Busch, and Nike. The main reason was "seemingly insurmountable evidence" and that he [Lance] "no longer aligns with our company's mission and values." You know those crashes you see on the cycling tours that cause a ripple effect in the race that can't be ignored? Yeah, this was much worse. 

Now, sponsors are leaving him, people are throwing away their yellow LIVESTRONG wristbands and thousands of people who looked up to Armstrong are reconsidering their athletic idol of choice. And why? He cheated? He lied? I think it's more than that. He disappointed a nation.

Consider others who have cheated during baseball's heyday in the 90s: Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmiero, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire, and Barry "My head is bigger than an XL pinata" Bonds. Were avid fans of the great game — like this guy — so distraught they reconsidered loving this sport? No. Those guys are frauds. Their numbers are hollow. Their achievements are tainted. What makes Armstrong different? We cheered for him — not for his championships, but for his plight. He fought cancer and kicked its tail. Sure, many believe the tonage of drugs he took may have caused it, but he still beat cancer. And then he set his life to kick its butt for good with the creation of LIVESTRONG. 

And now, he's no longer associated with the organization he created because of this sham. In fact, listen to the words of LIVESTRONG's CEO Doug Ulman:

Lance's devotion to serving others whose lives were irrevocably changed by cancer, as his ws, is unsurpassable...We are incredibly proud of his record as an advocate and philanthropist and are deeply grateful that Lance and his family will continue to be actively involved with the foundation's advocacy and service work.

Lance did great work for cancer awareness and raised hundreds of millions of dollars for research. Steroids or not. Fraud or not. Pinocchio or not. You can't deny what those seven Tour wins did for the fight against cancer. Were the sponsors wrong? Not at all. In fact, Nike is removing Lance's name from its fitness center in Oregon. People are running from Lance when they used to run to him. What would you do? What PR protection would you give him? Before you answer that question, go meet a cancer survivor who used to wear his yellow band as a badge of courage. And now has given it to the dog for a play toy. 

Chronic lying can do that to a guy. Widespread disappointment can do it faster.

   

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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