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Nike To Stand By Armstrong

Corporate sports apparel giant Nike said Friday that it plans to stick with Lance Armstrong, even after the embattled former cycling champion was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and fell from grace.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency formally stripped Armstrong of his titles and banned him for life one day after he announced that he was no longer fighting allegations that he had cheated for most of his career by using performance-enhancing drugs.

Bicycle maker Trek, another of Armstrong’s corporate sponsors, said it’s still analyzing the situation.

“Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position,” Nike said in a prepared statement. “Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation that Lance created to serve cancer survivors.”

Armstrong is considered one of cycling’s greats. His many accomplishments and his stirring comeback from testicular cancer made him a household name and help raise the sport’s popularity to new heights.

Armstrong, who retired from the sport in 2011, said he had just grown weary of the charges that have doggedly followed him for years. He declined the opportunity to exercise his last option by entering arbitration.

“Enough is enough,” he said in a statement.

The decision painted him as a confessed cheater in the eyes of the nation’s doping agency.

Nike, which is the world’s largest sportswear maker, has been a longtime supporter of Armstrong and Livestrong, the organization he founded to raise money for cancer research and help cancer survivors.

Since 2004, Nike has helped Livestrong raise more than $100 million and created the Livestrong yellow wristbands that became a global phenomenon with over 84 million bands distributed.

Trek Bicycle Corp. has sponsored Armstrong since 1999 and sponsors the Radio Shack Nissan Trek team at the Tour de France.

The Wisconsin-based bike company said it will continue to monitor developments.

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