The fallout from doping allegations against Lance Armstrong continues as sportswear maker Nike decided to end its long-standing endorsement deal with the former cyclist.
"The US Anti-Doping Agency report suggests that Armstrong may also have had other protection over the years from the governing body, and he became almost too big to bring down, too big to fail, he became bigger than the sport…and [now] it's a mess."
- Richard Moore, a former racing cyclist
The deal was reported to be worth $7.5m a year. Last week Nike pledged to continue to support Armstrong but now says it was misled by the American cyclist for more than 10 years.
After Nike's call to cut him loose, three more of his sponsors followed suit.
Armstrong himself has also stepped down as chairman of his cancer charity Livestrong.
These developments came in the wake of the US Anti-Doping Agency's report into his case last week.
The agency said it has considerable evidence that Armstrong had used performance-enhancing drugs for several years.
In August, the former cycling champion was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from cycling for life.
"[Organisers] have a lot of responsibility, they run cycling, they say they're self-governing, autonomous… This is the second phase of the [anti-doping] battle so cycling can't say 'we were not aware of it', it has been going on for almost two decades."
- Mihir Bose, a sports author
Unfortunately for cycling, Armstrong's case is just one of a number of doping stories that have hit the headlines. Some of the recent ones are:
- Former Australian cyclist Matthew White this month quit as director of an Australian pro-cycling squad after saying he was involved in doping while riding with Armstrong's US Postal Service team.
- Also in October the US Anti-Doping Agency announced the six-month suspension of American professional road cyclist Christian Vande Velde for doping during his time also with the US Postal Service team.
- Earlier in August Jonathan Vaughters, the former US professional racing cyclist and current manager of the Garmin-Sharp professional cycling team admitted to taking drugs during his cycling career.
- In 2010 retired American cyclist Floyd Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after admitting to doping.
So will cycling ever be clean from the doping culture?
Joining presenter Hazem Sika to discuss this issue on Inside Story are guests: Richard Moore, a Scottish journalist, author and former racing cyclist; Alan Ferguson, the managing director for The Sports Business; and Mihir Bose, a sports author and a former sports editor for the BBC.
"Nike's support was not for Armstrong the competitive cyclist per se but for Armstrong the myth, and the cancer survivor and champion…they were supporting his off-road activities…so it's very embarrassing for them and many would argue they should have done this a long time ago."
Alan Ferguson, the managing director, The Sports Business
Lance Armstrong doping scandal:
- June 2012 – he was charged with doping offences
- July – he tried to block the US Anti-Doping Agency case by filing a federal lawsuit against it
- August – he dropped the suit and announced he was giving up his fight against the allegations.
- The agency banned him from cycling for life and stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles
- October – the agency said it had overwhelming evidence that Armstrong and his former US Postal Service cycling team ran sport's biggest doping conspiracy ever.
- The report about 1,000 pages long includes testimony from 26 people, 11 of whom are Armstrong's former teammates.
Source: Al Jazeera