Mark Radcliffe thinks it was a long time coming.
Today Nike reversed their earlier claim that they still supported Lance in the wake of his doping allegations and have now officially terminated his contract.
Ten years ago, Nike was perhaps Lance’s biggest blowhorn, fashioning this famous “What am I on?” commercial that indignantly refuted the accusations of doping.
And hell, I bought it, too. I wore my yellow bracelet proudly as I cheered him on at the Tour.
Only a week ago, Nike was still supporting him, saying in a statement, “Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position. Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation…”
But today, after perhaps reading the full 204 page report and the countless claims by Lance’s former teammates and accusers, they changed their tune: “Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him.” Or perhaps because of protests like these. And while I’m sad to lose Lance as a hero, I applaud Nike: you can’t stand for fairness and integrity in sport without taking a stand against a man who appears to have been the most committed doper in history.
Nike is continuing to support Livestrong, his cancer foundation, but of course perhaps only because today Lance has also officially stepped down as its chairman. RadioShack, Anheuser-Busch, Giro, Trek have now followed suit and dropped their sponsorships of him as well.
At this point, it seems the only person who doesn’t believe Lance doped is Lance himself.
Will he ever come clean? Will he ever join the growing ranks of cyclists who’ve admitted the suspected truths about doping in cycling, like convicted racer Tyler Hamilton in his book “The Secret Race”? I sincerely doubt it. Will it cause him considerable angst and suffering throughout the rest of his life to live with these lies? Yes.
But if there’s one thing I still believe Lance can do, it’s tolerate a whole lot of pain.