Paul Willerton, a former professional cyclist who rode alongside Lance Armstrong during two world championship road races, is protesting Nike for its continuing support of the athlete.
Willerton said he decided to take a stand against the company after the US Anti-Doping Agency released a report last week saying Armstrong was part of one of the worst doping scandals in sports.
"I don't like doing this, and this is the last thing I want to do," said Willerton. "But, that's how strongly I feel about the issue."
Willerton said that if the USADA banned the cycling icon for life, for allegedly using drugs and intimidating witnesses, that Nike should also follow suit and drop Armstrong from its brand.
"Nike should not condone the behavior that Lance Armstrong has demonstrated for so long. To see Nike take this stance now is disgusting. Nike's materials have stood for some of the greatest thing you can stand for as a company," Willerton said. "A clean sport should be another one of those things."
Willerton said he has witnessed Armstrong's behavior firsthand, when he was on a fishing trip with three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond. Armstrong called LeMond on the phone and allegedly threatened him, Willerton said.
"In that phone conversation, Lance basically told Greg he better shut his mouth about the dope, or he was going to find 10 people to say Greg took those drugs," said Willerton. "That rattled Greg, who was adamant to Lance that he won those races clean."
While Willerton never personally saw Armstrong use drugs, he said his behavior demonstrates that he did not, and does not, respect the rules of the sport. He believes Nike should "just do" the right thing, and support a clean sport.
"Nike needs to do deal with what has been their core message all along, I think the world is waiting for that," Willerton said.
Willerton started his professional cycling career in 1991 on Team Z with Greg LeMond. He moved to the new Subaru Montgomery team for the 1992 and 1993 seasons.
He rode with Armstrong at one amateur world championship road race and at the professional world championships in 1992.
Willerton and his colleagues plan to protest at the entrance to the Nike Campus on 11 Bowerman Dr. in Beaverton, OR, from 6 a.m. until noon on Tuesday.
As of 8 a.m., a handful of protesters had set up outside Nike's World Headquarters.
In a statement issued to FOX 12 early last week Nike said:
"We are saddened that Lance Armstrong may no longer be able to participate in certain competitions and his titles appear to be impacted. 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."
Copyright KPTV 2012 (Meredith Corporation.) All rights reserved.
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