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Sponsor suspends Pistorius' contract

Updated: 2013-02-22 07:11
By Agence France-Presse in London ( China Daily)

Nike has suspended its contract with Oscar Pistorius, a spokesman for the US sportswear giant said on Thursday as the South African Paralympics star fights charges of murdering his girlfriend.

The firm is the latest in a series of corporate giants to halt endorsements that have earned the so-called "Blade Runner" millions of dollars in recent years.

"Nike has suspended its contract with Oscar Pistorius," the firm's UK and Ireland spokesman said.

Sponsor suspends Pistorius' contract

"We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely."

Seen worldwide as an inspirational athlete, 26-year-old Pistorius, who has both legs amputated below the knee, is linked to several sponsors.

He is facing murder charges over the Valentine's Day shooting of his 29-year-old girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in South Africa.

Pistorius, who became the first double amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes in the Olympics at the 2012 London Games, says he shot Steenkamp by mistake through a locked bathroom door, believing she was a burglar.

Pistorius earned millions of dollars in endorsements, but the murder charge saw billboards featuring his image being taken down soon after the news broke.

An advertisement for Nike that showed Pistorius setting off from the starting blocks with the line "I am the bullet in the chamber" has been removed from the runner's personal website.

A Nike spokesman in the United States confirmed on Tuesday that the sporting goods and apparel manufacturer had "no plans for Oscar Pistorius in upcoming campaigns".

Golf icon Tiger Woods, another Nike-backed athlete, retained its endorsement during his infamous sex scandal when other sponsors severed ties with the then-married father-of-two.

US sunglasses maker Oakley has already suspended its contract with Pistorius.

"In light of the recent allegations, Oakley is suspending its contract with Oscar Pistorius, effective immediately," the company said in a statement.

French cosmetics firm Clarins said on Wednesday it was dropping an advertising campaign featuring the 26-year-old.

(China Daily 02/22/2013 page23)

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