Nike announced Tuesday that the company will stop production of its Livestrong line of exercise apparel and gear at the end of this year, terminating a licensing agreement that helped raise $100 million for the cancer foundation, according to Reuters and numerous media outlets. It's the latest hit for Livestrong in the wake of founder Lance Armstrong's admitted blood doping and use of illegal substances on his way to seven (since stripped) Tour de France titles.
"We expected changes like this," Katherine McLane, a Livestrong spokeswoman, said in a conference call with reporters. "Could there be fallout? Of course," she said. "We remain enormously confident...We are in strong fiscal shape."
Baltimore magazine profiled Livestrong Foundation CEO Doug Ulman, a Howard County native and three-time cancer survivor, this month in a story titled, "Surviving Lance."
Nike dropped Armstrong last October when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's 1,000-page report said he had organized a sophisticated doping scheme while competing. Nike said at that time it would still support the charity, but no longer sponsor Armstrong.
Armstrong stepped down from the Livestrong board last year after meeting with Ulman.
In his interview with Baltimore, Ulman said he understood that the organization will suffer in terms of its fundraising this year, adding it has reduced its internal budget for 2013 by 11 percent, but he added that major grant funders like Nike and Oakley remained on board.
With Nike gone, the path forward for Livestrong just got a whole lot steeper.
“It’s ironic,” Ulman told Baltimore. “We are in the business of survivorship. And all of the tools that we use to help people navigate cancer — now we have to apply those same principles to the organization.”