Lance Armstrong Is Done With Both Nike And Livestrong. Whom Should You Hate The Most?
Lance Armstrong's having a rough time lately. Back in August, he decided he'd stop fighting the doping allegations leveled against him by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, at which point the agency stripped him of his Tour de France titles and banned him from cycling for life. Then, last week, that same agency released a report filled with details - many provided by Armstrong's former teammates - about widespread doping on Armstrong's cycling team throughout his run of Tour victories.
And as it turned out, that report signaled the end of whatever connection to those titles he had left: as of today, he's done as both a Nike spokesman and as the head of his own charity, Livestrong. Nike's statement on dropping Armstrong:
"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. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner."
And Armstrong's statement on dropping himself as Livestrong chairman:
"This organization, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart. Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship."
So who comes out of all this looking the worst? The first instinct is to say Armstrong. All those titles he won, all those people he inspired, all that money he helped raise - all of it, seemingly, based on a lie that he fought tooth and nail to cover up for more than a decade (with Livestrong helping to act as a shield against bad publicity). Not coincidentally, Armstrong is a legendary dick.
But consider Nike too. Deadspin went over it already, but the sanctimony on display here ("seemingly insurmountable evidence") is nauseating. And whining about being "misled"? Poor little helpless $2 billion a year in profit Nike. Hard not to laugh - or bang your head against the wall. Hell, you could even build a case - a contrarian case, but one nonetheless - that maybe Livestrong is what deserves most of your ire. In our opinion, in order from least to most hateable:
3) Livestrong. Maybe it contributes much less to baseline cancer research than you might think, but there's no question it's raised awareness, has launched tons of programs and studies that certainly seem to have noble enough goals. And even the critical piece we linked to admits it's got some "fine ideas."
2) Lance Armstrong. Evidence suggests he was a large-scale cheater, liar, and all-around guy you would never want to deal with personally. Then again, everyone cheats in cycling, so controlling for cheating across the sport, Armstrong was still probably the best. Been the subject of doping allegations so long that it's hard to even care anymore. Also, fought like hell on that lie.
1) Nike. Armstrong's a dick today for the same reasons he's always been a dick. But with its public statement upon dropping him, Nike found an entirely new way to be terrible. Seriously, just drop him without the stupid dog and pony show. Or put out a statement, but say something like:
Due to recent developments, we announce with sadness that we have terminated our contract with Lance Armstrong.
Don't act like a jilted lover. Terminate the deal that undoubtedly worked like gangbusters for both Armstrong and you for years and go on back to being worried that you only made $567 million in profit last quarter. Hard to dress this up as a moral stand when you still reaffirmed your support for him two months ago. You kept him on board for as long as you possibly could have. That's fine - if you don't tell a little sob story about it. If you have to drop another athlete in similar fashion in future: please, please spare us that.
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