Will sponsors stand by Lance Armstrong?

Lance Armstrong (R) of the US rides during the final stage of the 2011 Tour Down Under in Adelaide on January 23, 2011.

Jeff Horwich: By now you’ve probably heard Lance Armstrong has given up trying to defend himself against doping charges. Guilty: that’s up for debate.

But what’s that mean for his sponsorship and foundation money relationships? Marketplace’s Scott Tong reports.

Scott Tong: Brand Lance stretches from Nike and Trek Bikes to Radio Shack, Michelob, and the Nissan Leaf.

Already, Nike says it’ll keep supporting him, noting Armstrong has “stated his innocence.”

And that’s important to the sponsors, as opposed to a guilty verdict or admission.

Rick Burton teaches sports management at Syracuse.

Rick Burton: If he doesn’t engage and allow them to prove him guilty, he then holds onto the slight perception that he’s innocent. Some of the companies that he’s been associated with, they’re gonna say that’s good enough for us.

Longer-term, sponsorship consultant Jim Andrews expects brands to honor their deals, but then let the relationship quietly expire.

Jim Andrews: You’re not going to be seeing him in advertisements and making appearances on behalf of those brands.

Some brands may be able to pull out now.

Increasingly, contracts have “morals clauses,” giving them an out if a superstar gets in trouble.

Armstrong’s previous deal with the U.S. Postal Service had one of those clauses.

I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s Sustainability Desk.


I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...

Sustainability Coverage

  • The Kendeda Fund
  • Wealth & Poverty Coverage

  • The Ford Foundation