Friday
Oct192012

Armstrong Losses Hit Home With Departure Of 24 Hour Fitness Deal, Co-Branded Clubs

By Barry Janoff

October 18, 2012: The drug-related scandal involving Lance Armstrong has hit even closer to home for the former pro cycler. 24 Hour Fitness has not only joined the list of companies that have ended or are ending their alliances with him, but said it would also remove the Lance Armstrong name from six co-branded fitness clubs, four of which are in Armstrong's hometown of Austin.

The other two are located in Denver and Tigard, Ore.

Armstrong has lost most of his marketing partners over the past two days as the result of a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report released last week that detailed the widespread used of prohibited performance-enhancing drugs by Armstrong and teammates, which included his seven consecutive Tour de France wins from 1999-2005.

Among the companies severing ties with Armstrong are Nike, Anheuser-Busch's Michelob Ultra, RadioShack, FRS energy drink, Giro, Honey Foods, SRAM and Trek Bicycles.

Armstrong earned an estimated $15 million from endorsement deals in 2011, according to industry analysts.

Many of these companies worked with Armstrong on his LiveStrong foundation, which raises awareness and money to fight cancer, and they have vowed to remain aligned with that effort. Armstrong himself is a survivor of cancer.

The statement released by 24 Hour Fitness mirrored many of those from other now former Armstrong partners.

“Given the evidence surrounding Lance Armstrong's alleged actions, we have determined that our business relationship with Armstrong no longer aligns with our company's mission and values. Over the coming weeks, we plan to remove the Lance Armstrong brand from our six co-branded fitness clubs and further improve these facilities to enable and inspire our members to achieve their fitness goals.”

A Web site dedicated to the 24 Hour Fitness Lance Armstrong locations now yields this result: "Thank you for visiting 24HourFitness.com. Unfortunately, we are not able to process your request at this time. We apologize for any inconvenience. Check back with us later. Thank you for your patience while we improve our site."

Among the few remaining companies that have not as yet cut ties with Armstrong is Oakley eyewear, which has said it is awaiting a decision from the International Cycling Union, the world governing body for the sport, on its review of the USADA's report.

According to the ICU, they can either uphold the USADA's findings and the ban and removal of wins — including seven Tour de France victories — that were placed on Armstrong or take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The latter is an international body headquartered in Switzerland that was established in 1984 under the then-auspices of the International Olympic Committee to settle disputes related to the Olympics. It was later revamped to become an independent arbitration body that can handle situations related to numerous global sports.

The USADA, whose report includes sworn statements from 26 witnesses, including 11 former teammates, has banned Armstrong from cycling for life and decreed that 14 years of his career results, including the Tour de France wins, be erased.

Armstrong, who has resigned his position as chairman for LiveStrong, has vehemently denied the use of any prohibited substances, claiming that he never tested positive in upward of 600 drug tests he took during his pro career.

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