WASHINGTON, January 16, 2013 — The Lance Armstrong doping scandal has hit the soccer world. Sporting Kansas City, one of the 19 clubs in Major League Soccer, has ended its relationship with Mr. Armstrong’s anti-cancer charity Livestrong.
In March 8, 2011, Sporting Kansas FC named its new soccer-specific venue Livestrong Park, but following Armstrong’s own admittance that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France, the venue will be referred to as Sporting Park.
“Our faith and trust in this partnership have been permanently damaged; therefore we are terminating our agreement with Livestrong, effectively immediately,” said Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman in a statement. “As a result of this decision, our stadium will now be referred to as Sporting Park. While we are ending this relationship, our support of the fight against cancer will endure. We look forward to introducing new initiatives to assist these efforts in Kansas City.”
Livestrong signed a six-year deal with the team last year. This week the Livestrong organization informed the club, according to ESPN, that the team had only paid $250,000 of $1 million that it owed the foundation.
“This morning we were disappointed to learn Livestrong is utilizing aggressive tactics designed to force us into an unsatisfactory arrangement,” Heineman said. “We willingly admit we were not expecting the foundation to treat a partner in this manner. Even more surprising is that Livestrong would take this action in the midst of a significant transitional phase for their organization.”
As the fallout from the Armstrong scandal continued last year, Sporting Kansas FC stayed with the venue’s name. It now appears that Mr. Armstrong’s confession in an interview with Oprah Winfrey on Monday and the recent financial disagreements may have been the last straw.
“There have been several instances over the last 22 months when our partnership with Livestrong has been called into question, both by media and the general public,” Heineman said. “…Over the course of the past year, it became clear that Livestrong no longer shared the same spirit of partnership, despite our perseverance to the contrary.”
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon
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