What They're Saying Now: Well, they fired him on October 17. The statement they released cites "insurmountable evidencem," which is odd considering they were still softly supporting him in just two months earlier:
Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner.
Other corporate sponsors, like Radio Shack and Anheuser Busch, dumped on Armstrong the same day.
ESPN's Rick Reilly: Wear Yellow
What He Said Then: "The man is a test passer. He's had tests of scalpels and IVs, lungs and muscle, and now age and will. For 23 days, he will be trying to pass this 2,262-mile test against riders whose fathers he raced. He'll be trying to pass it every day, and it mesmerizes and astonishes me," Reilly wrote for ESPN.com in July of 2010, when Armstrong was competing in his thirteenth and final Tour de France. "Test passer" isn't exactly the most ardent defense we can think of, but okay. Reilly added:
"[D]oesn't Armstrong deserve the benefit of the doubt? A man who's worked tirelessly for and inspired people you know, people in your life, people who don't even know yet that they will need him for inspiration? A man who, right in front of your eyes, is trying to make calendars stop turning?
What He's Saying Now: Reilly addressed Armstrong's doping and punishment from the USADA in a column on September 4 that ran wunderth the headline "Lance still worth revering." Reilly wanted to get the point across that he didn't care whether Armstrong doped, that his contributions to cancer research and other causes outweighs the alleged lying, and that people should wear yellow to support Armstrong:
But wear something yellow Friday just to return the favor. Wear something yellow to tell Lance Armstrong that they might be able to ban him for life, but they can't ban him from life. Wear it to tell him to keep going, to keep fighting for cancer-research legislation, to keep showing people through his Livestrong foundation how to fight through the red tape and get to the treatment that can cure them.
In five years, nobody will want to check to see if Lance Armstrong's name is still attached to those trophies. But in five years, they'll still want him leading any peloton that's trying to chase down cancer.
Sally Jenkins: I'm Not Angry
What She Said Then: Well, this one's sort of odd. Jenkins wrote two books with Armstrong (It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life and Every Second Counts). Jenkins, a columnist for The Washington Post, wrote there on August 24:
First of all, Lance Armstrong is a good man. There’s nothing that I can learn about him short of murder that would alter my opinion on that. Second, I don’t know if he’s telling the truth when he insists he didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs in the Tour de France — never have known. I do know that he beat cancer fair and square, that he’s not the mastermind criminal the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency makes him out to be, and that the process of stripping him of his titles reeks.
Clearly, Jenkins is friendly with Armstrong. After that column, as Jim Romenesko pointed out, she went on a brief hiatus, which Romeneseko asked her about. She responded and revealed more about her friendship:
In the meantime I can tell you that while my thoughts are complicated Lance remains a friend of mine, and my personal opinion of him was never based on what he did or didn’t do while riding a bike up an Alp. I like the guy.
What She's Saying Now: On December 15, Jenkins broke her Armstrong hiatus and penned another column defending him in the Post. "I've searched high and low for my anger at Lance, and I can't find it. It's just not there. I checked — looked in every corner, and I'm empty of it," Jenkins wrote about her co-author. The defense continued, with the by now too familiar everyone-else-did-it excuse...
Maybe I’m not angry at Lance because, though I hoped he was clean, it’s simply not shocking or enraging to learn that he was like all the other cyclists who sought a medical advantage in riding up the faces of mountains.
...and that maybe it's our fault Armstrong doped:
Or because I’ve long believed that what athletes put in their bodies should be a matter of personal conscience, not police actions — when we demand unhealthy, even death-defying extremes of them for our entertainment, it seems the height of hypocrisy to then dictate what’s good for them.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.