Lance steps down from charity post, pulled down from billboards
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A week after the United States Anti-Doping Agency made public its evidence in a doping case against Lance Armstrong, saying he was at the center of an organized doping program on his Tour de France winning teams, Armstrong on Wednesday stepped down as chairman of Livestrong, his cancer foundation, the organization that inspired millions fighting the disease.
The fallout from the antidoping agency's report also prompted Nike, the company that stood by Armstrong through more than a decade's worth of doping allegations, to terminate his contract on Wednesday.
"I have had the great honor of serving as this foundation's chairman for the last five years and its mission and success are my top priorities," Armstrong said in a statement. "Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship."
Armstrong, the seven-time Tour winner who denies ever doping, founded the organization in 1997 after he survived testicular cancer and it sold millions of yellow Livestrong wristbands and went on to partner with Nike to sell millions of dollars of Livestrong gear. Jeff Garvey, the vice chairman of the organization, will become chairman, while Armstrong will remain on the foundation's board.
In a statement on Wednesday morning, Nike said the evidence that Armstrong had doped was so overwhelming that it could no longer partner with him. In the past, the company stood by athletes like Kobe Bryant, who was accused of sexual assault but never convicted, and Tiger Woods, who gained international notoriety for his extramarital affairs. Nike severed ties with Michael Vick when he went to prison for his role in a dogfighting ring but later re-signed him.
"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," the statement said. "Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner. Nike plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer."