Steamboat Springs In the midst of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's release of a scathing report on Lance Armstrong, two local entities with strong ties to the cyclist are preparing to move forward without him.
Steamboat Springs-based Honey Stinger, a manufacturer of honey-based nutrition foods, confirmed Wednesday that it is removing Armstrong's image from all of its product packaging.
Armstrong became a partner in the company in 2010. An image of him riding has adorned some Honey Stinger product packaging ever since.
Armstrong, however, will remain part of the Honey Stinger ownership group.
“Honey Stinger is a small Colorado company focused on providing healthy, honey-based energy foods,” Honey Stinger’s statement read. “We are in the process of removing Lance Armstrong’s image and endorsement from our product packaging. While this presents short-term challenges, we look forward to growing our brand and offering our customers the best products possible.”
Earlier Wednesday, Armstrong stepped down as chairman of Livestrong, and one of his biggest sponsors, Nike, terminated his contract. The fallout continued throughout the day, with other longtime Armstrong sponsors Trek Bicycles, Giro and RadioShack also announcing an end to their formal relationships with the disgraced rider. Most, however, said they would continue to support Livestrong's efforts to help cancer victims.
The USADA's report was released last Wednesday and includes testimony from 26 people, including 11 former Armstrong teammates. It details what the USADA calls one of the most sophisticated doping programs in sports history.
David Nagel, co-founder of the Steamboat Springs-based 4 Yellow Foundation that puts on the Ride 4 Yellow and Ski 4 Yellow fundraisers in Steamboat, was preparing Wednesday to head to Austin, Texas, for the Ride for the Roses Livestrong fundraiser and 15th anniversary celebration.
Nagel, who is traveling to Austin with his wife and four other couples to accept an award from Livestrong for their fundraising efforts locally, said Wednesday’s news should make for an interesting weekend.
“We’ll continue to move forward,” he said. “We’ll hear what they have to say at the national level and we’ll get back and relay that to our sponsors and participants.”
Ski 4 Yellow and Ride 4 Yellow, two of 13 events that are officially partnered with Livestrong, have been striking successes. Since their inception in 2010, the two events have raised $1.125 million, with half of the proceeds going to Livestrong and the other half granted to Yampa Valley cancer initiatives.
The inaugural Ride 4 Yellow in 2010 was given instant credibility when Armstrong himself showed up for the event and participated in the 26-mile mountain bike ride from Dumont Lake on Rabbit Ears Pass to the top of the gondola at Steamboat Ski Area.
Nagel said past allegations against Armstrong didn't impact the success of the local fundraisers. He acknowledged that could change with the torrent of damning testimony now coming out against Armstrong.
“We’ll see on this one,” Nagel said, referring to the USADA report. “This time around, his supporters, Nike, the people he was aligned with and Livestrong are all scratching their heads.”
He said registration for Ski 4 Yellow will open sometime in December.
“Lance is the one who has to look in the mirror and answer questions himself,” Nagel said. “Whether he sleeps at night is his issue. For me, I’ve got a sister-in-law that is a seven-year cancer survivor. We do owe a lot to Livestrong for her support and recovery.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com