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Nike Cuts Endorsement Ties With Suspended Baseball Player Braun

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Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Nike Inc. severed its endorsement contract with former National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Braun, who on July 22 was suspended by Major League Baseball for the remainder of the season due to drug violations, company spokesman KeJuan Wilkins said in an e-mail.

Braun, a five-time All-Star outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, didn’t contest the penalty. Wilkins said the world’s largest sporting-goods maker wouldn’t have any further comment on Braun.

The 29-year-old was among nearly two dozen major leaguers, including Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, being investigated for connections to a Miami-area anti-aging clinic that MLB has accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs to players.

Braun isn’t the first athlete to be let go by Nike, which released seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong in the wake of his admission to using performance-enhancing drugs.

Braun repeatedly denied using drugs after failing a test during the 2011 postseason. His 50-game doping suspension for elevated testosterone levels was overturned by an arbitration panel after he argued his urine test sample had been mishandled.

“I realize now that I have made some mistakes,” Braun said in a statement after the suspension. “I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.”

Nike, based in Beaverton, Oregon, also cut ties with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick after he went to jail for his role in a dogfighting ring. The company re-signed Vick when he returned to the National Football League.

To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Soshnick in New York at ssoshnick@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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