Nissan Statement On LEAF Pitchman And First Owner, Lance Armstrong

5 years ago by Jay Cole 8

Lance Armstrong Gets Keys To First Nissan LEAF

Unless you have been living a very isolated life of late, you are probably aware that Lance Armstrong has been vacated (or likely will be shortly) of his seven Tour de France wins, and has now ‘officially’ been declared a drug cheater in the sport of bicycling, and banned for life.

UPDATE (October 22nd, 2012):  Lance ARmstrong has officially been vacated of his 7 Tour de France titles, and has been requested to return some $3million in prize money. 

That is, at least in the eyes of the USADA  (United States Anti-Doping Agency), the only authority that really matters when it comes to right and wrong in the sport in the United States.

Lance Armstrong At The Livestrong Challenge In Philadelphia This Year

Depending on your perspective of the situation, it was either a witch hunt that the cyclist simply gave up fighting against (as Armstrong said himself in a statement he issued on his webpage).

Or, faced with the spectacle of having to “contest the evidence against him,” of which there was reportedly a sizeable amount, with as many as 10 former teammates willing to testify against him, Lance Armstrong may have just decided this was the best opportunity to bow out and continue his work with the Livestrong Foundation.

By taking the road of least resistance, Mr. Armstrong may have kept the majority of his sponsors, at least for now.  Almost in unison, sponsor after sponsor said they would stick with Lance, citing his humanitarian efforts, including raising over $500 million for cancer, along with his own personal triumphs over the disease.

Anheuser-Busch, Nike, Honey Stinger, Oakley, the FRS Company, were all quick to back the cyclist.

Nissan Produced A Special "Yellow Jacket" LEAF For Armstrong, With Colored Accent Wheels, Brakes And Trim

However, the race team that Lance Armstrong was last a part of, Team Radio Shak/Nissan Trek, a group that still features Lance’s Livestrong Foundation amidst a plethora of other corporate logos on their buses and lorries, might be a little too close to the former athlete for comfort, and that team has yet to make a statement.

For Nissan, Lance Armstrong was more than just a member of their corporate sponsored cycling team.

Not only was Armstrong the LEAF’s first pitchman, appearing in a series of commercials, he was also the very first owner, taking delivery of the 73 mile electric car in September of 2010.

On a list of corporate supporters for Lance this week, the Japanese company was a notable absence.  Had the company dropped him?

In speaking with InsideEVs, Nissan issued this statement clearing up their relationship with Mr. Armstrong:

“Jay – Nissan has been a proud sponsor of Nissan/TeamRadio Shack for the past three years. Our relationship with Lance Armstrong was based on his presence on the team. We no longer had a relationship with him when he retired from the team.   Thanks for your inquiry, have a good weekend.”

Armstrong’s re-re-retirement in 2011 (not sure exactly how many there was in total), may then have been a blessing of sorts for Nissan, as the EV world really doesn’t need any more negative press associated with it at the moment.  In any event, we do know for sure that we won’t be seeing Mr. Armstrong promoting the LEAF anytime in the future.

UPDATE 2 (October 23rd, 2012):  Armstrong has since lost his endorsement deal with Nike, stepped down as head of the Livestrong Foundation, and as of today, sunglasses maker Oakley has dropped Lance as well.

Watch Lance Armstrong take delivery of the first LEAF, and getting a walking tour from Brian Carolin, SVP Nissan North America:

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8 responses to "Nissan Statement On LEAF Pitchman And First Owner, Lance Armstrong"

  1. Stuart22 says:

    As an avid cyclist and former amateur racer (never took performance enhancing drugs BTW), I have mixed feelings about this. The pragmatic skeptic within me rationalizes that Lance may have been drugged up, but so were the majority of all the other riders he raced against and beat, so what’s the big surprise. And now that he has been stripped of his wins, what are they going to do now — assign the victories to other riders who may have been equally adept as Lance seems to have been in slipping through the testing?

    As far as his connection with Nissan and the LEAF, I don’t see any fallout hurting Nissan. He hasn’t been actively promoting the LEAF for them as far as I know for a long time. But, if Nissan wants to get some clever and free publicity out of this, I suggest they ask for Lance’s LEAF to be given back to them. -:)

    1. Jay Cole says:

      I have this same issue myself, but with baseball. I am a huge stat-head/saber, and go to way too many ball games every year. And it is tough to come to grips with issues like this.

      The question of what records/persons to you keep, which do you disregard, and what legacy is to remembered fhose people caught infracting the rules during a particularly intense PED era is a tough question.

      Do you throw everything out to protect the history of the sport? Or do you accept the group/actions as a whole and just move on? Is there some kind of in between compromise?

      I have my own opinions, but I tried to keep the peace net-neutral and recognize this is no easy/right answer. Just put the info out there, (=

  2. Dave R says:

    A couple clarifications (as I understand it):

    The USADA itself is not the only authority that matters. Ultimately, the UCI only has the authority to strip Lance’s titles away from him, but can do so using USADA evidence. That said, it appears that the evidence collected by the USADA does not meet UCI requirements for such an action. All news reports of Lance’s titles being stripped are premature at this point until the UCI makes a decision (and the UCI has indicated that it has nothing on Lance and would not pursue it if it were not for the USADA).

    There appears to be no actual evidence against Armstrong – only hearsay from 10 other cyclists who have traded leniency in exchange for testimony against Armstrong. 8/10 of those cyclists have already testified that Armstrong is clean in other doping cases.

    The Feds already investigated Armstrong earlier this year and dropped the case for lack of evidence. On the USADA does not have to prove anything without a reasonable doubt – so hearsay is completely acceptable to them. It appears that their claims would not stand up in a US court of law.

    As the US Federal Judge commented on Lance’s case against the USADA that he threw out earlier this week (my interpretation of his summary): the whole thing is a mess – but as it is outside of his jurisdiction they can continue to throw tar and bring the sport of cycling down if they wish.

    ***MODERATOR EDIT/COMMENT: Hey Dave, the story should mention that he has not as of yet lost his Tour titles officially, I will note that in the story. Thanks. ***

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Story updated as Lance has officially been stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles and asked to repay some $3 million in prize earnings.

  3. Ian Australia says:

    All I can say is it’s an interesting turn of events. I dont blame Armstrong – a friend of mine did 6months inside in Sweden for a set up framing that was eventually exposed when the framer fessed up. Hence as a compassionate feeling person, though the circumstances are entirely different, I give people like Julian Assange and Lance Armstrong the benefit of the doubt. Publicists and sponsors however will not all be so benevolent with their judgement, that is for sure. Hang the system not the accused!

  4. James says:

    There’s a new kid on the ( American cycling ) block…His name is T.J. Van Garderen. It’s been said that T.J. just blew by “normal” bike racers in his junior cycling days. These are people with stamina levels we couldn’t dream of. Because young T.J. looks like America’s new hope to vie for a Tour de France win – do we automatically suspect him of doping? The French do – For me, it was a sense of pride and yes, patriotism that Lance won so many Tours, and defeated cancer to boot. He has been an inspiration to many for many reasons, to that – there is no dispute.

    Here’s the deal. I race trained a lot with a former U.S. Olympic cyclist many years past. He pointed out the rigors of the Tour, and anyone watching the entire event has to understand the levels of endurance and stamina are nearly inhuman. I think the sport and it’s popularity in Europe bears cheating. How can a human withstand such punishment so long? Riders who rode with Lance before he was reknown say the same things folks now say about T.J.. That Lance had “an extra gear” – That Lance just made regular racers look like kids with training wheels. Could all the attacks just be jealousy? Someone pointed out that animals who have been far above others in performance, like Man O’ War, the racehorse had been examined and found to have lungs and hearts no other horse ever had. Could certain athletes just have superior attributes for stamina?

    Drugs have been so rampant in pro international cycling for so long – what if Lance did just what nearly every other cyclist in the field feels they have to do to compete? Who is the judge of whether or not the playing field is level? To me – the Tour is too grueling, and anyone who can ride for nearly 22 straight days including balls-out time trials and mountain climbs for 100 miles that would kill you or me may perhaps be SUPERHUMAN…..I think officials with power to change the sport should consider the challenges they lay out before the competitors. The pressure, the money and the nature of mankind to do whatever it takes to win.

    People who are not cyclists cannot imagine what this requires. Name one…just ONE sport that requires as much from a human body. Many endurance sports last one day, or a few hours – not three weeks! A massage and a night’s sleep isn’t enough to recover from such demanding output.

    I think Lance Armstrong is an ass outside cycling – he dumps his first wife for Sheryl Crow and Cancer Man dumps her when she contracts cancer! Big womanizer, kind of a jerk….But the guy still has a story next to none. He’s a sponsor’s dream. He ( after Eddie Merckx ) may be the second best cyclist in history. USADA can’t take away what this guy as accomplished for cycling in America, and they cannot change history with the accusations of his compatriots that doped and got caught.

    Oh yeah, this is an EV site – I think Lance’s ads pointed out a great benefit not oft talked about re: EVs : FRESH AIR – YOU CAN BREATHE in a world of electric transportation. I take the side of Lance’s sponsors: We’re all innocent until proven guilty – accusations walk.

  5. Sterling says:

    What he might have done, as we all suspect a lot of others have done as well… isn’t this like the pot calling the kettle, black?

    This whole ordeal is nothing to me in comparison as members of the Congress, our elected officials on both sides robbing from the Social Security Trust Fund, involved in insider trading (look at how many millionaires there are in Congress who weren’t when they went in). Who open their doors (and their pockets) to lobbyists. And who go on “fact finding missions” to expensive resorts all across the planet. And we devour news about Armstrong’s “fall from grace” and ignore the real scoundrels who cheat, rob and deceive all of us in Washington.

    1. James says:

      Amen brother!

      It’s the absolute truth – and so ironic that it hurts.

      It’s so telling that the ONLY thing Democrats and Republicans agree upon is ditching campaign finance reforms. Most telling is that McCain-Feingold, the only campaign finance reform bill passed into law has been repealed – so now, without it, lobbying, “SuperPACS” and all the nonsense has amped up ( EV reference ) to new levels. Corruption is the corrosion that ruins any good democracy, and it’s our number one problem in America at this moment in time.

      All the hype about healthcare, and Congresspersons serve one term and have the best healthcare on earth for life! Nothing near it is available for the “common folk”. Who wouldn’t want to be a Congressperson?!! – the inside deals, the cushy “consultant” jobs when they get out — We live in a time when “public servant” has become – “promise them anything” to serve thyself.

      The media thrive on witch hunts and Lance is the latest victim. Let’s tear down a hero when our nation is at war for over a decade for no reason – and Big Oil seems to be having a convention in Tampa.