Nike reportedly paid $500,000 to the former president of Union Cycliste Internationale, the governing body for sports cycling and international competitions, to cover-up one of Lance Armstrong's positive drug tests, according to a report Tuesday from Michael O'Keefee of The New York Daily News.
Nike has long supported Armstrong despite the fact that he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles this year amid allegations that he took illegal substances during competitions. Details of the allegations made by some of his critics are coming forward indicating that Nike actively covered up Armstrong's involvement in what the USADA called one of the most sophisticated doping programs in sports history:
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.
One of Armstrong's team mechanics reportedly told Kathy Lemond in a 2006 deposition that Nike solicited the help of a San Francisco-based banker to wire $500,000 to a Swiss bank account that allegedly belonged to Verbruggen.
A former teammate of Armstrong's said he would spend Tuesday outside of Nike's headquarters in Oregon to protest its continued support of Armstrong:
"Nike should not condone the behavior that Lance Armstrong has demonstrated for so long," former professional rider Paul Willerton said. "To see Nike take this stance now is disgusting. Nike's materials have stood for some of the greatest thing you can stand for as a company. A clean sport should be another one of those things."
Nike denies any involvement in covering up doping allegations:
"Nike vehemently denies that it paid former UCI president Hein Verbruggen $500,000 to cover up a positive drug test," the company said in a statement. "Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs."