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Mon Oct 20 06:28:58 SAST 2014

Sponsors Nike, Oakley sever ties to Pistorius

Sapa-AFP | 19 February, 2013 23:22
"Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius during court proceedings in the Pretoria Magistrates court.
Image by: SIPHIWE SIBEKO / REUTERS

Nike and Oakley, two American companies that were sponsors of Oscar Pistorius, have cut ties with the South African Olympic athletics hero in the wake of charges that he murdered his girlfriend.

The 26-year-old double amputee Paralympic champion known as "Blade Runner" became an inspiration to millions when he competed on carbon-fibre running blades against able-bodied athletes in the London Olympics last year.

But Pistorius now faces a charge of premeditated murder in the shooting of his 29-year-old girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. If convicted, he would likely receive a life sentence behind bars.

Pistorius tearfully denied the charge on Tuesday, saying he shot through a bathroom door at what he thought was an intruder.

Pistorius earned millions of dollars in endorsements but the shocking murder charge that stunned the world saw billboards featuring his image being taken down soon after the news broke, as sponsors backed away from him.

"Nike has no plans for Oscar Pistorius in upcoming campaigns," a spokesman for the sporting goods and apparel manufacturer confirmed on Tuesday.

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

Sunglasses maker Oakley ended its contract with Pistorius as well.

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

"Our hearts are with the families during this difficult time and we will continue to follow the developments in this tragic case."

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Mon Oct 20 06:28:58 SAST 2014 ::