Washington: Sportswear Company Nike has strongly denied any involvement in the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, saying the company doesn’t condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs.
Nike raised eyebrows last week when it announced that it was standing by Armstrong, despite the avalanche of evidence presented in the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report that details why the cyclist was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
The giant sports apparel company has a history of publicly supporting embattled athletes, as it issued statements backing Kobe Bryant after the Lakers guard was charged with sexual assault in 2003 and Tiger Woods after his extramarital sexploits became public in 2009.
But Nike`s support of Armstrong may be different, since there is evidence that suggests Nike is not simply a sponsor that chose to remain visibly loyal to a scandal-stained athlete, but an active participant in what the USADA report described as the most sophisticated doping program in sports history.
USADA`s explosive ‘reasoned decision’ has focused new attention on people who have claimed for years that the cyclist`s success was fueled by performance-enhancing drugs – critics who found themselves threatened by Armstrong and his lawyers and marginalized in the media.
One of those critics is Kathy LeMond, the wife of American cyclist Greg LeMond, who testified under oath during a 2006 deposition that Nike paid former UCI president Hein Verbruggen 500,000 dollars to cover up a positive drug test, but Nike has denied making any such payment.
“Nike vehemently denies that it paid former UCI president Hein Verbruggen $500,000 to cover up a positive drug test,” the New York Daily News quoted the company, as saying in a statement.
“Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs,” the statement added.