Nike suspends contract with Pistorius

LONDON Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:56pm IST

Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock during a break in court proceedings at the Pretoria Magistrates court, February 20, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock during a break in court proceedings at the Pretoria Magistrates court, February 20, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

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LONDON (Reuters) - American sportwear company Nike (NKE.N) suspended its endorsement contract with South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius on Thursday after he was charged with murdering his girlfriend a week ago.

Nike has sponsored Pistorius since 2007, supplying him with running kit and special soles that he wears on the base of his carbon fibre racing blades.

"We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely," the company said in a statement, confirming the suspension of the agreement.

Nike, the world's largest sportswear company, ended a long-standing sponsorship agreement with cyclist Lance Armstrong last year after he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles because of a doping scandal.

Nicknamed "Blade Runner", double amputee Pistorius is the world's highest profile Paralympian and also competed alongside able-bodied athletes in the London Olympics last year.

His sponsorship deals with companies including British telecoms firm (BT.L), sunglasses maker Oakley (LUX.MI) and French designer Thierry Mugler are believed to be worth around $2 million a year.

(Reporting by Keith Weir; Editing by Lorraine Turner and Angus MacSwan)

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