Oakley severs Armstrong ties
Lance Armstrong (Gallo Images)
London - Sunglasses maker Oakley has become the latest sponsor to drop cyclist Lance Armstrong over a doping scandal that has seen him stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
Oakley, owned by Italy's Luxottica, acted on Monday after the International Cycling Union (UCI) ratified the United States Anti-Doping Agency's sanctions against the American, banning him for life.
The company said it would continue to support the Livestrong cancer support charity founded by Armstrong, himself a cancer survivor. Armstrong stepped down as chairperson of the charity last week.
"Based on (the) UCI's decision today and the overwhelming evidence that USADA presented, Oakley has severed its longstanding relationship with Lance Armstrong, effective immediately," the company said in a statement.
"We are deeply saddened by the outcome, but look forward with hope to athletes and teams of the future who will rekindle that inspiration by racing clean, fair and honest," it added.
US sportswear company Nike last week terminated its contract with Armstrong and brewer Anheuser-Busch said it would end its relationship with him when their agreement expires at the end of 2012.
Oakley sponsors a number of leading cyclists including Bradley Wiggins, who this year became the first Briton to win the Tour de France.
Dutch bank Rabobank ended its sponsorship of professional cycling last week, saying it was not convinced the sport could clean up its act.