Nike Denies Covering Up Positive Lance Armstrong Drug Test

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Nike Denies Covering Up Positive Lance Armstrong Drug Test
Riccardo S. Savi/Getty Images

Lance Armstrong may not be the sole participant in what the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency recently called "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

According to New York Daily News reporter Michael O'Keeffe, a 2006 deposition by Kathy LeMond, wife of American cyclist Greg LeMond, implicated Nike as one of Armstrong's allies in a suspected coverup:

USADA's explosive "reasoned decision" has focused new attention on people who have claimed for years that the cyclist's success was fueled by performance-enhancing drugs – critics who found themselves threatened by Armstrong and his lawyers and marginalized in the media. One of those critics is Kathy LeMond, the wife of American cyclist Greg LeMond, who testified under oath during a 2006 deposition that Nike paid former UCI president Hein Verbruggen $500,000 to cover up a positive drug test.

O'Keeffe also supplied a small snippet from Nike's statement, denying LeMond's allegations:

"Nike vehemently denies that it paid former UCI president Hein Verbruggen $500,000 to cover up a positive drug test. [...] Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs."

UPDATE: Wednesday, October 17 at 8:26 a.m.

Not only has Lance Armstrong stepped down as chairman of Livestrong, according to the Associated Press' Jim Vertuno, but Nike has terminated his contract

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. 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. 

---END OF UPDATE---

Coverup or not, Nike has stood by the cycling legend-turned-controversy magnet. Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods received the same positive treatment from the iconic company when their own scandals put them on under fire years ago.

Despite Nike's denial, O'Keeffe's report also holds another intriguing statement. Betsy Andreu, the wife of Armstrong's former friend and teammate Frankie Andreu, had this to say:

"Lance didn't do it alone. [...] How else could he pull off the biggest fraud in the history of sport? He had big corporations backing him, the cycling governing body, UCI, defending him, and the media ignoring the evidence. No wonder fans thought that he was clean."

The USADA's report offers plenty of reasons to believe that Armstrong did, in fact, cheat. The report even suggests that he expected his teammates to cheat as well.

O'Keeffe's report offers a few disheartening quotes from Armstrong critics, exposing the cyclist and his cohorts. Those statements have yet to be proved true, but they deserve some attention considering Armstrong's reputation.

All of this will take a long time to sort out. Nike's denial of its involvement in the Armstrong scandal makes sense, especially with so much on the line. Allowing Armstrong to compete, under the Nike name, while knowing what he was allegedly doing, would carry massive consequences in terms of public relations and possible legal action.

Most likely, you've already made up your mind regarding what Armstrong did or did not do. However, whispers of any involvement from Nike gives this earth-shattering scandal an entirely new life.

Keep an eye out for more news regarding this complicated situation.

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