NEW YORK - Lance Armstrong was dropped by Nike and stepped down as chairman of the cancer foundation he founded Wednesday, one week after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency detailed his alleged use of performance-enhancing substances.
Nike, the world's largest sporting-goods maker, said in a statement on its website that it would continue to support Livestrong initiatives to help people affected by cancer. The charity has raised more than $470 million since 1997, according to its website.
"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 Beaverton, Ore.-based company said. "Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in any manner."
Nike said a week ago after the USADA report was released that it "plans to continue to support Lance."
Mary Remuzzi, a Nike spokeswoman, declined to comment in a telephone interview on the financial details of the contract or why the company changed its stance in the last week on Armstrong, 41, whom it had sponsored since 1996.
Nike ended contracts with quarterback Michael Vick following his conviction for crimes related to dog fighting and with sprinter Marion Jones after a doping confession. It didn't end contracts with basketball player Kobe Bryant or golfer Tiger Woods following acknowledgements of adultery.
The decision won't have any financial ramifications for Nike, Chris Svezia, an analyst for Susquehanna Financial Group in New York, said in an interview.
"I'm not overly surprised," Svezia said. "The difference between this and Tiger Woods is that this was a drug that improved and altered his performance and they are all about performance."
USADA's report said Armstrong's career was "fueled from start to finish by doping." Armstrong, the record seven-time Tour de France winner who had his titles stripped by the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based agency in August, required teammates to use banned substances or face dismissal from his squad, according to a 202-page summary of its case against him.
"The evidence demonstrates that the 'Code of Silence' of performance-enhancing drug use in the sport of cycling has been shattered, but there is more to do," Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of USADA, said in a statement that preceded the report. "From Day 1, we always hoped this investigation would bring to a close this troubling chapter in cycling's history and we hope the sport will use this tragedy to prevent it from ever happening again."
Armstrong has repeatedly denied doping, saying he has never failed a drug test. He said Wednesday he was stepping down from Livestrong, which he started in 1996, to "spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career."