NEW YORK (AP) — Nike is severing ties with Lance Armstrong, citing insurmountable evidence that the cyclist participated in doping and misled the company for more than a decade.
The clothing and footwear company said on Wednesday that it was ending Armstrong's contract "with great sadness."
Nike Inc. said it will continue to support the initiatives of Livestrong, a cancer non-profit organization.
Armstrong said he is stepping down as chairman of his Livestrong cancer-fighting charity so the group can focus on its mission instead of the doping allegations surrounding the former cycling champion.
The move came a week after the US Anti-Doping Agency released a massive report detailing accusations of widespread doping by Armstrong and his teams when he won the Tour de France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005.
The document's purpose was to show why Usada has banned him from cycling for life and ordered 14 years of his career results erased — including those Tour titles. It contains sworn statements from 26 witnesses, including 11 former teammates.
Armstrong, who was not paid a salary as chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, will remain on its 15-member board. His duties leading the board will be turned over to vice chairman Jeff Garvey, who was founding chairman in 1997.
"This organization, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart," Armstrong said in a statement. "Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship."
Foundation spokeswoman Katherine McLane said the decision turns over the foundation's big-picture strategic planning to Garvey. He will also assume some of the public appearances and meetings that Armstrong used to handle.
Armstrong strongly denies doping, but did not fight Usada accusations through arbitration, saying he thinks the process is unfair. Once Armstrong gave up the fight in August and the report came out, crisis management experts predicted the future of the foundation, known mainly by its Livestrong brand name, would be threatened.
Also on Wednesday, Armstrong's former physician has denied accusations that he masterminded the doping habits of the cycling great and other riders.
Dr. Michele Ferrari was banned for life in July by the Usada.
Ferrari released a statement on his website in which he denies the Usada charges and tries to discredit the testimonies of key witnesses Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, Christian Vande Velde, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer and Tom Danielson.
"The false accusations that the six cyclists mentioned threw at me are ALL based on 'visual' testimonies of each of the six witnesses telling of events that concerned only me ('Dr Ferrari') and the 'witness' himself," Ferrari said. "They NEVER evoke the presence of another witness, whether between the six above, or other persons who may corroborate the veracity of their claims.
"An exception is the declaration of Landis when he says: 'George Hincapie also had blood drawn by Dr. Ferrari in my presence.' Too bad that Hincapie, in his affidavit, makes no reference to this serious charge."