Nike Fights Subpoenas In Lance Armstrong, Federal Lawsuit

Lance Armstrong
The seven-time Tour de France winner was stripped of his titles and his Nike deal after he admitted to doping in 2013.
Getty Images.

Nike Inc. wants no part of the legal entanglement involving former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong and the U.S. government.

Nike filed a motion for a protective order in an effort to counteract subpoenas from the federal government — the plaintiff — and former Nike-sponsored Armstrong — the defendant — in a case built on allegations that Armstrong made false statements regarding his use of performance-enhancing drugs while benefiting financially from the government’s — i.e., the U.S. Postal Services’ — sponsorship.

In documents filed in a district court in Oregon on Aug. 24, Nike said it terminated its sponsorship of Armstrong in 2012 and “is a stranger to the USPS’s sponsorship agreements.” The athletic-footwear and apparel behemoth wants the subpoenas from both parties modified as well as limitations placed on discovery procedures by the courts.

Nike said its requests are justified because responding to the subpoenas would require the company “to disclose trade secrets or highly sensitive proprietary and commercial information” and “would impose a burden or expense on Nike that outweighs its likely benefit.”

In the event its motion is denied, specifically for Armstrong’s subpoena, Nike further asks that a protective order be entered giving Nike at least 30 days to produce documents and depositions.

Armstrong — who was sponsored by the USPS from 1998 to 2004 — alleges that the USPS “realized over $135 million in tangible economic benefits” from the sponsorship.

Nike, the government and Armstrong have agreed to an expedited briefing schedule, and Nike has requested that the hearing be set for the week of Sept. 8, 2015.