USA Cycling drops Lance Armstrong’s name from junior road race series
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Friday, October 19, 2012

USA Cycling drops Lance Armstrong’s name from junior road race series

by Shane Stokes at 6:19 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Oakley acknowledges strength of evidence against Armstrong but won’t act yet

USA CyclingIn what is yet another example of cycling entities pulling back from the under-fire Texan, USA Cycling has announced that it has renamed the Lance Armstrong Junior Race Series as the USA Cycling Road Development Race Series.

“Lance Armstrong supported the junior race series for over 20 years,” said USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson. “However, given the recent revelations involving Mr. Armstrong and in order to continue to grow this development program, we feel it is only appropriate to initiate this change of title not only for this program and its race directors, but also for the bright future of budding American cyclists.”

The announcement is a reflection of how far the former pro’s star has fallen since the publication of USADA’s reasoned decision this month.  A name change for the series had previously been lobbied by Dieter Drake of Anthem Sports, promoter of many high-profile races including the Tour of the Battenkill.  His concern was having Armstrong's name associated with young cyclists, and he felt that it sent the wrong message with the constant accusations that there was systematic doping on his teams.  Now, after the fallout from the evidence in USADA's case against Armstrong being made public, the respected race organizer has had his point made crystal clear.

"I think this is a step in the right direction.  The sport of cycling is in such turmoil right now, and this small signal from USA Cycling indicating that they are willing to set things right is encouraging," Drake said of the decision.  "I think it'll be a while before juniors and parents will have confidence in cycling, however. We have a long way to go still."

Meanwhile the Oakley eyewear company has said it recognises the evidence that has been gathered against Armstrong, but that it does not plan on following the example set by the Texan’s other sponsors this week and walking away at this point in time.

It has again reiterated its intention to await the reaction of the UCI to USADA’s reasoned decision. Oakley makes it clear that if the governing body decides to accept the sanctions laid out therein, that it will then act on the matter.

“As guilty as the evidence shows, which we completely acknowledge, it is our promise & contractual obligation to stand by our athletes until proven guilty by the highest governing body of sport, or a court of law,” it said in a message released today via Twitter. “We might be last off but we are not going to jump on the bandwagon as it breaks our promise to all of our athletes. We will wait for the UCI's conclusion and act at that time.”

Armstrong has been with the company since the mid 90s, and has had a strong relationship. When he became sick with cancer in 1996, it insisted that its insurance company should cover his medical costs even though he wasn’t officially part of its policy. Since then the bond has been tight, but the USADA report and its thousand pages of evidence has clearly put that partnership under strain.

Earlier this week Nike became the first company to sever ties with the Texan, and was then followed by Trek, Giro, FRS, Anheuser-Busch, Honey Stinger and RadioShack.

Also departing is 24 Hour Fitness, which is a gym network which bore his name in six different locations. The UCI may be yet to endorse USADA’s findings, but the gym has made up its mind. “Given the evidence surrounding Lance Armstrong's alleged actions, we have determined that our business relationship with Armstrong no longer aligns with our company's mission and values,” it stated.

“Over the coming weeks, we plan to remove the Lance Armstrong brand from our six co-branded fitness clubs and further improve these facilities to enable and inspire our members to achieve their fitness goals.”

As for SRAM, the bicycle components company that Armstrong bought into several years ago, it said this week that it had bought out his interest in June of this year. It added that it was ending a separate product sponsorship agreement. Many of the companies will however continue to support the LiveStrong foundation. He stepped down this week from the position of chairman.

Industry estimates this week as to how much the lost sponsorships could cost Armstrong over the next decade or so ranged from $30 million to $150 million.

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