Still, this might not be the end for Mr. Armstrong.
David Cope, a sports marketing consultant who has worked for all seven professional teams in the Baltimore-Washington area, said Mr. Armstrong could make a good investment for new companies that want to sponsor him because they could get him for about 50 cents on the dollar or less.
“He could be an incredibly affordable investment,” Mr. Cope said. “Don’t be surprised if some other sponsors, competitors of his former sponsors, swoop in in the next few days and partner with him at a much more reasonable rate.”
He pointed out that Mr. Armstrong has been linked to drug scandals for years, so if he was a valued endorser then, he could be a valued endorser again. Sponsors should focus on his cancer survival, his charity efforts and his work ethic, but avoid his seven stripped Tour de France titles, he said.
“Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position,” Nike spokeswoman Mary Remuzzi said at the time. Nike maintained that stance last week, even after the doping report was released.
Nike also has supported other troubled athletes. The company stood by golfer Tiger Woods after revelations in 2009 about his extramarital affairs. Gillette, AT&T, General Motors Co. and Gatorade terminated endorsement deals with Mr. Woods.
Mr. Woods lost more than $20 million in endorsements over the next year, falling from $92 million in 2009 to $70 million in 2010, but remained the highest paid athlete for eight consecutive years until 2012, according to Sports Illustrated’s Fortunate 50. He currently is third on the list with $54.5 million in endorsements.
Nike also backed Kobe Bryant, who signed an endorsement deal in 2003 just days before he was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman. While other brands such as McDonald’s and Coke stopped working with the basketball star, Nike just postponed using Mr. Bryant to promote products until after the assault charges were dropped in 2005.
But the mounting evidence against Mr. Armstrong was too much for Nike to ignore. After taking more time to review the USADA report, Nike reversed its decision, and terminated the company’s contract with him.
The USADA last Wednesday released the 200-page report that included sworn testimony from 26 individuals, including 15 riders, 11 of whom were Mr. Armstrong’s teammates. It detailed his role as the ringleader of a major cycling doping scheme.