This was met with some angry reactions from sports fans - especially after the continued support of Tiger Woods (though the goings on surrounding a persons private life may raise questions morally, it is a far cry from systematic cheating and choking of sport involving years of drug abuse and intimidation) - who were shocked by the level of support given to a sports 'cheat' by a company that promotes sport, sporting success and fair play. The support from Nike hasn't been missed by those within the sport either. Ex Professional Cyclist and former Armstrong team-mate Paul Willerton has yesterday stated his intentions to, along with 'a small group of athletes and cycling fans plan to show up at the Nike corporate headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, on Tuesday morning to protest the company's continuing support for Armstrong' saying:
"We're a group of athletes who don't stand for organized crime in sports. We don't allow bullying and intimidation inside the cycling industry or any industry for that matter. These are fundamental human rights issues. So to have a company like Nike standing there and saying they publicly support that, I can't stand for it myself, and I know I'm not alone in that."
Today though, we are struck with allegations on a far grander scale with the New York Daily News reporting that Nike transferred $500,000 to a Swiss bank account belonging to then UCI President Hein Verbruggen possitive drugs test for corticosteroids to 'go away'. Oh, but Nike probably did this to prevent major embarrassment because they had already so publicly defended Armstrong in the 2001 commercial, I hear you say. Except, the positive test for corticosteroids dates back to 1999 - 2 years before Nike and Armstrong so boldly denied doping allegations in the now incredibly audacious looking 2001 advert.
So far these allegations against Nike are just that, dating back to 2006 in a testimony Kathy LeMond gave under oath at the SCA Arbitration case - but it goes some way in to giving a reason as to just why it is so unwavering in it's support of Lance Armstrong. If evidence is found to substantiate the claims, this well and truly entangles the under-fire sports company in what could be a damning and defining moment in Nikes 49 year history. Standing by an athlete in times of private or professional hardship is one thing, even if it is for the company's own gain, but having a direct hand in bribing officials, corrupting a sport and covering positive drugs tests from such an influential position in the sporting world is an entirely different matter and brings a whole new meaning to the 'Nike: Just Do It' slogan. Everybody wants to know what Lance is on? He's on Nike...