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Rabobank ends sponsorship of professional cycling

Professional cycling has taken yet another hit, with the major sponsor Rabobank pulling out after the latest doping allegations. The 17 riders sponsored by the Dutch institution now need to find new homes.

In a statement the bank announced that, though it is ending its sponsorship of both the men's and the women's professional cycling teams at the end of the year, it will continue with its ties at the amateur level.

"Rabobank has come to this decision following publication of the report from the American doping authority, USADA, last week," the statement read.

The US Anti-Doping Agency's report has triggered a string of events.

The fallout

The report published last week included testimony from 11 former cyclists for the USPS team and accuses seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong of running the "most sophisticated" doping program in the sport's history.

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No more bikes for this bank

The USADA ordered that 14 years of Armstrong's career results be wiped out, as well as his seven Tour de France titles.

Armstrong still strongly denies doping.

'Seemingly insurmountable evidence'

Nike, one of Armstrong's main corporate sponsors, also announced that it was terminating its relationship with the cyclist and accused him of deception on Wednesday.

"Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him," the sporting goods giant said in a brief statement.

And then Trek, the company that made the bicycles Armstrong rode to the seven titles, announced on the same day that it would join Nike and Anheuser-Busch in terminating its sponsorship contract.

Damage control

On Wednesday, the cancer survivor announced that he would step down from his own charity, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, also known as Livestrong, a move suspected to be intended to limit the damage to the organization from the USADA report.

Lance Armstrong competes in the Ironman Panama 70.3. triathlon in Panama City (AP Photo: Arnulfo Franco)

Armstrong has found himself stripped of the opportunity to ever ride professionally again.

Livestrong has raised some $500 million (380.8 million Euros) to support cancer patients since it was established in 1997.

"To spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship," Armstrong said in a statement.

Armstrong, 41, said he intends to remain on the charity's board, and his announcement came as the organization prepared to celebrate its 15th anniversary this weekend.

rg/mkg (Reuters, AFP)

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