Nike will be cutting ties with Livestrong, the cancer charity started by Lance Armstrong that once shared a close connection to the footwear and sports apparel company.
Nike has been credited with turning Livestrong into a global brand and making the yellow wristband a cultural icon, but now is pulling back after Armstrong became embroiled in a doping sandal.
Lance Armstrong started the charity in 1997, originally naming it the Lance Armstrong Foundation. He was forced off the borad of directors in October after the scandal erupted.
Armstrong already saw Nike leave as his personal sponsor after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency uncovered a team doping scandal and showed that Armstrong was its ringleader.
Officials at Livestrong said despite the split with Nike, the foundation is still committed to its work with cancer patients and survivors. They also emphasized that the charity remains in strong fiscal condition, despite seeing the organization’s budget reduce close to 11 percent in 2013.
“Together, we created new, revolutionary ways of thinking about how non-profits fuel their mission and we’re proud of that,” the foundation said, adding, “This news will prompt some to jump to negative conclusions about the foundation’s future. 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.”
Earlier this year Lance Armstrong met with close to 100 Livestrong staffers at the company’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, the Washington Post reported. It wasn’t known exactly what Armstrong said but spokeswoman Katherine McLane said that Armstrong gave a “sincere and heartfelt apology” that caused many people to cry.
McLane added that Armstong “took responsibility” for creating controversy for the non-profit organization. She did not say if Armstrong discussed the doping allegations during the visit.
Nike had a nine-year relationship with Livestrong, helping the foundation to raise more than $100 million.