Nike sponsored athletes found to be drug cheats

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Nike have long been established as a market leader in the production of sports wear and equipment and this has enabled them to add countless elite athletes to their impressive roster.

The American sportswear giant spends exorbitant sums on marketing its product, demonstrated by the £27 million paid to FC Barcelona each year, while Cristiano Ronaldo has hardly been short of a few quid during his time in the Nike stable.

In fact, Nike spend an enormous $3 billion each year on what they call 'Demand Creation', i.e. sponsoring their clients and putting together various ad campaigns.

But with this dedication to sponsoring sports stars across numerous disciplines there can arise issues, namely Nike's clients being unearthed as dopers, as has happened on several occasions.

Here are some of the most notable cases...

Lance Armstrong

The seven-times Tour de France winner admitted in 2013 that he had used performance-enhancing drugs, which led to those titles being stripped.

He also lost his sponsorship deal with Nike, worth $7.5 million-per-year, after it was claimed he had “misled” them for “more than a decade.”

Asafa Powell

The Jamaican sprinter’s Nike deal ended in 2009, and was famous for producing Powell’s Zoom Aerofly spikes that were custom made, featuring the colours of the Jamaican flag and cheetah-like spots.

The former 100m world record holder was banned from athletics in 2013 after testing positive for banned stimulant oxilofrine.

Justin Gatlin

One of the most controversial on the list, Gatlin was recently handed a new sponsorship deal by the company, despite having been banned twice for doping.

Athletes including Paula Radcliffe and Kelly Sotherton publicly questioned Nike’s decision, relating to the message it is sending to young athletes.

Marion Jones

Jones was banned doping offences in 2007 and actually sentenced to six months in prison the following year in regards to using performance enhancing drugs, as well as for her part in a check fraud case.

Nike decided not to renew her contract when it expired in 2005, soon after rumours of her involvement in the BALCO drug scandal began.

Shane Warne

Warne tested positive for a banned substance which forced him to miss the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Australia’s highest ever wicket taker had a seven-year contract with Nike, lasting from 1994 until 2001.

During that time, he was often involved in controversy, including comments about then Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga which led to a two match ban in 1999.

Alex Rodriguez

Perhaps the most famous baseball player currently playing the game, Rodriguez, nicknamed ‘A-Rod’, is the youngest ever to reach 500 home runs.

He was banned for the entire 2014 season in relation to an investigation into a Florida clinic, which reportedly gave performance-enhancing drugs to baseball players. He was retained by Nike after his 2009 admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs between 2001 and 2003.

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