Investigators are examining a series of payments made by Nike during a 1996 football sponsorship deal with Brazil for evidence of any wrongdoing, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
The US newspaper said that allegations of corruption surrounding Nike's $160 million agreement to sponsor Brazil's national team are are discussed in barely veiled terms in the Justice Department's indictment of officials in soccer's governing body, FIFA
The indictment describes a multinational US sportswear company that struck a deal to sponsor the Brazilian federation, and then cut a side deal with a sports-marketing middleman, who allegedly used payments from the company for bribes and kickbacks, the Journal reported, adding that the people "familiar with the matter confirmed the company is Nike".
The Livestrong Foundation, the cancer charity founded by disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, said that Nike had dropped its sponsorship of the group, which is known for its distinctive yellow wristbands.
The group had flourished during Armstrong's cycling career, which saw him win the grueling Tour de France race seven times, titles he was stripped of last year amid accusations that he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Armstrong admitted to doping early this year and stepped aside from the charity, which he had founded after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.
"We expected and planned for changes like this and are therefore in a good position to adjust swiftly and move forward with our patient-focused work," the group said in a statement.