….but it wouldn’t hurt to have one, either. Writing for Forbes, Webster University Director of Sportsimpacts and Associate Professor of Economics, Dr. Patrick Rishe considers the latest PED allegations leveled against 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, and opines that even if the cyclist / cancer activist / marketing tsunami is ultimately found not guilty, his reputation and earning power have suffered a serious blow.
(1) As it relates to steroid use by athletes, the general public has become largely cynical towards athletes linked with steroid use. Fans value a sense of fair play, and it is my perception of the public’s perception that PED users are seen as cheats and phonies by the average fan.
(2) As the public became inundated with scandal after scandal during the 2000s (with Barry Bonds and Marion Jones among numerous high-profile athletes linked to PEDs), the unfortunate aftermath for those accused or suspected of PED use is the public’s presumption of the athlete’s guilt…regardless of whether a particular athlete indeed is guilty of PED use. Consistent with this opinion are the summary opinions shared by ESPN’s Kristi Dosh in an article which suggests that Ryan Braun’s marketability as a product endorser will likely take a substantial hit because of his ties to PEDs during the 2011-12 off-season…even though he was eventually found to be in the clear (no pun intended).
(3) Companies more than ever, for both financial and public relations reasons, are extremely sensitive and risk-averse as it pertains to which athletes they choose to develop a marketing relationship with. Ever intent on winning over new customers while similarly intent on not losing existing customers, the last thing a company generally wishes to engage in is a endorsement relationship with an athlete who they believe either has a currently tainted reputation or too many skeletons in their closet.
Or needles in the waste basket as the case may or may not be.