BEAVERTON, Ore. – A small group of protesters gathered near Nike headquarters in Beaverton Tuesday morning to demand that Nike break ties with Lance Armstrong.
Last week, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) released a report claiming that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs while winning seven Tour de France titles, which USADA has ordered taken away.
The report claims Armstrong bullied his former teammates into cheating as well. Eleven of those teammates testified against him.
Paul Willerton of Bend, Ore. once rode with Armstrong. He put out the call for others to join him at Tuesday’s protest and said it’s time for Nike to cut ties with the athlete.
“I’m not the only one. I think there are millions,” said Willerton. “Stand up and acknowledge the truth.”
Willerton said he didn’t know how many others would join him in protest Tuesday, but said it didn’t matter to him if he’s the only one.
One protester's sign said "Just do the right thing: Sack Lance." Another said "No drugs. No bullies. No lies."
Willerton said it’s important to illustrate the kind of person that he believes Armstrong is.
“[They] not only took drugs to get the results they wanted in the sport, they made someone else, other people take those drugs within the team, they orchestrated the most organized doping program that’s ever been uncovered in the history of the sport,” Willerton said.
“I think they have a great opportunity to set an example for corporations to support clean sports, clean athletes and set a great example for the next generation of kids,” said protester Jeff Mitchem of Portland. “Drug-free sports are more important than winning at all costs.”
A spokesperson from Nike released this statement Monday: “Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position. Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation that Lance created to serve cancer survivors.”
Willerton said he wants Nike to continue to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation, but he believes the company should cut ties with Lance Armstrong the athlete and condemn him.