Steroid Witch-Hunt Costs Lance Armstrong Millions of Dollars in Sponsorships

  • Tweet

It seems likely that Lance Armstrong will be stripped of his historic seven Tour de France titles after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) condemned the professional cyclist as a cheater who used steroids and erythropoietin throughout his career. However, this may be the least of the concerns facing Armstrong. Several sponsors have chosen to abandon Armstrong after the release of the “Reasoned Decision of the United States Anti-Doping Agency on the Disqualification and Ineligibility“. Nike and several other companies made the decision to severe ties with Armstrong costing the cyclist an estimated $30 million over the next few years.

The USADA report provided extensive documentation intended to support the claim that Armstrong used various banned performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) such as erythropoietin (EPO) and anabolic steroids (specifically testosterone) during his professional cycling career.

Armstrong’s sponsors took notice. Nike was the first to cite the report and its “insurmountable evidence” that Armstrong used doping products as the reason for terminating its sponsorship of the once celebrated athlete.

Anheuser-Busch, RadioShack, Trek, Giro, FRS and Honey Stinger all followed suit. In fact, nine out of ten of Armstrong’s sponsors, including many who loyally supported him for decades, dropped Armstrong on the very same day. Oakley was the only one to remain. And its sponsorship is tentative pending the review of USADA’s evidence by cycling’s international governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

Anti-doping officials have celebrated the release of USADA’s “Reasoned Decision” and many other anti-doping advocates have cheered for the personal destruction of Armstrong. What they may not realize is that the “Reasoned Decision” will have many other consequences for the sport of cycling.

Lance Armstrong is perhaps single-handedly responsible for increasing the visibility of cycling to an international market. Armstrong was not the only one to profit during the boom years of cycling. Everyone associated with the sport witnessed more money pouring in as a result of Armstrong. Everyone profited as a result. That will change.

The witch-hunt against Armstrong had the unintended consequence of exposing cycling as a sport where practically everyone is using performance-enhancing drugs. With the destruction of Armstrong comes significant damage to the sport as many will likely withdraw their investments from the sport.

Lance Armstrong

Photo credit: Millard Baker


Belson, K. (October 17, 2012). Armstrong Dropped by Nike, Steps Down as Foundation Chairman. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/18/sports/cycling/lance-armstrong-dropped-by-nike-steps-down-as-chairman-of-his-charity.html