Sporting KC, Livestrong Foundation sever ties

Club CEO: Faith & trust permanently damaged

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Sporting Kansas City and the Livestrong Foundation have ended their six-year agreement only 22 months after it began amid allegations of broken promises from both sides.

In a statement issued Tuesday  night, club CEO Robb Heineman said Livestrong Sporting Park will be known as "Sporting Park" from now on.

Heineman's statement comes one day after Livestrong's founder, Lance Armstrong, admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs during an extraordinary cycling career that included seven straight Tour de France victories. The interview is scheduled to air Thursday night.

RELATED | Oprah says Lance Armstrong admitted to doping

"Over the course of the past year, it became clear that LIVESTRONG no longer shared the same spirit of partnership, despite our perseverance to the contrary. We realized at the time this could be the beginning of a tumultuous period for the foundation. We were patient as they sorted through these issues," Heineman said in the statement.

"This morning we were disappointed to learn LIVESTRONG is utilizing aggressive tactics designed to force us into an unsatisfactory arrangement. We willingly admit we were not expecting the foundation to treat a partner in this manner," he continued. "Our faith and trust in this partnership have been permanently damaged; therefore we are terminating our agreement with LIVESTRONG, effectively immediately."

RELATED | Read Heineman's full statement

But according to ESPN, the Livestrong Foundation initiated the split, claiming Sporting KC paid only $250,000 of the $1 million it owed in 2012. The team pledged to donate $7.5 million to the foundation as part of the deal.

Greg Lee, Livestrong Foundation CFO, said in a statement that they tried and failed to reach a compromise with Sporting KC.

"The LIVESTRONG Foundation strives to be a great partner and we expect the same from those we do business with. Part of my role as the Chief Financial Officer is to ensure that the terms of the Foundation's agreements are adhered to. If a partner is struggling to meet the terms of an agreement, we do everything possible to reach a fair and reasonable compromise," he said in the statement Tuesday night. "If no compromise can be reached, as good stewards of our brand, mission and donors' dollars, we have no choice but to bring that agreement to an end. That is the case here."                                                

Sporting KC spokesperson Rob Thomson told 41 Action News reports of the team failing to meet its financial obligations are "very inaccurate."

In the statement released Tuesday night, Heineman said the team actually surpassed its donation goal.

Armstrong resigned from the board of directors for Livestrong in November, hoping to avoid further damage for the charity in the wake of a report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that accused him of helping run "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen" within his U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams.

Before this week's interview with Winfrey, Armstrong had long denied doping, and Sporting KC had said as late as last summer that it planned to leave the name of the stadium in place.

Sporting KC is hosting the 2013 MLS All-Star Game in July.


The Associated Press Contributed to this Report

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