Following today’s much anticipated decision from the International Cycling Union, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), Oakley is now the latest company to cut ties with Lance Armstrong.
The UCI today confirmed that it ‘will recognize and implement the reasoned decision of USADA’ and will ‘disqualify all competitive results achieved by [Lance] Armstrong from 1 August 1998’ onwards.
Having waited on the UCI decision, Oakley swiftly launched its response:
Based on UCI’s decision today and the overwhelming evidence that USADA presented, Oakley has severed its longstanding relationship with Lance Armstrong, effective immediately.
When Lance joined our family many years ago, he was a symbol of possibility. We are deeply saddened by the outcome, but look forward with hope to athletes and teams of the future who will rekindle that inspiration by racing clean, fair and honest.
We believe the LIVESTRONG Foundation has been a positive force in the lives of many affected by cancer and, at this time, Oakley will continue to support its noble goals.
As with other sponsors, Oakley has continued to support Livestrong. Last week, both Trek and Nike pledged their commitment to Livestrong, whilst abandoning their commercial relationships with Lance Armstrong.
Other sponsors depart
Towards the end of last week, SRAM Inc confirmed that it was ending its relationship with Armstrong. Both Anheuser-Busch and Giro also stated that they would not be renewing their contracts with the rider.
Meanwhile, sports nutrition brands FRS and Honey Stinger have also distanced themselves from Armstrong. FRS has reportedly ended its business relationship. The position is somewhat more complicated for Honey Stinger, in that Armstrong has equity in the company. Although, Honey Stinger has confirmed that it is removing Armstrong’s image and endorsement from the product’s packaging.
A further repercussion was Rabobank’s decision to withdraw its sponsorship of the Rabobank men’s and women’s pro cycling teams at the end of 2012. In response, Garmin-Sharp pro rider David Millar reacted on Twitter by stating…
“Dear Rabobank, you were part of the problem. How dare you walk away from your young clean guys who are part of the solution. Sickening.”
Cleanliness is next to godliness
Today’s UCI ruling will unfortunately not be the end of a messy and damaging saga. The UCI itself has come under fire. And legal battles are expected to continue, as a number of individuals and organisations seek redress.
In its response on the Armstrong saga today, the UCI has some wise words…
Today’s young riders do not deserve to be branded or tarnished by the past or to pay the price for the Armstrong era. Cycling has a future and those who will define that future can be found among the young generation of riders who have chosen to prove that you can compete and win clean.