Nike severs ties to Lance Armstrong "with great sadness" over doping accusations

NEW YORK - Nike has severed ties with famed cyclist Lance Armstrong, citing insurmountable evidence that he participated in doping and misled the company about those activities for more than a decade.

The clothing and footwear company said Wednesday that it terminated Armstrong's contract "with great sadness."

"Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner," it said in a statement.

Armstrong said Wednesday, just minutes before the announcement from Nike, that he was stepping down as chairman of his Livestrong cancer-fighting charity so that the organization can steer clear of the whirlwind surrounding its founder.

Nike Inc., based in Beaverton, Ore., said it plans to continue its support for Livestrong.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a massive report last week detailing allegations of widespread doping by Armstrong and his teams when he won the Tour de France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005.

Nike has stuck by the athletes that it has endorsed in the past during tumultuous times in their lives, including Tiger Woods.

The company distanced itself from NFL quarterback Michael Vick following a dog-fighting scandal, but by last year, it was backing Vick once again.