At an employee meeting this morning, Trek president John Burke announced that Trek filed a lawsuit to sever the company’s ongoing relationship with three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond. This suit comes on a heels of commentary from LeMond, in which LeMond recently disclosed that Trek pressured him to issue a public apology to Lance Armstrong at Armstrong’s behest.
Trek began its business relationship with Greg LeMond in 1995. By 1999, the LeMond line was one of the fastest growing road bike brands and one of the top five largest road bike brands in the United States, with the LeMond brand growing to a $15 million business.
In 2001, LeMond criticized Lance Armstrong for his association with Italian trainer and physician Michele Ferrari, who advocates for the use of performance enhancing drugs. “When I heard he was working with Michele Ferrari I was devastated,” said LeMond of Armstrong’s Tour de France wins in 2001. “In the light of Lance’s relationship with Ferrari, I just don’t want to comment on this year’s Tour. This is not sour grapes. I’m disappointed in Lance, that’s all it is.”
A month later, LeMond issued a tearful public apology to Armstrong.In July 2004, however, LeMond again questioned Armstrong’s achievements, saying, “If Armstrong’s clean, it’s the greatest comeback. And if he’s not, then it’s the greatest fraud.” LeMond also said that Armstrong threatened to defame LeMond and that he was told to keep quiet to protect his business interests. Last September, LeMond said in an interview that his 2001 apology came after Trek came under pressure from Armstrong and threatened to end their relationship.
Last March, LeMond filed suit against Trek. In his 41 page complaint against Trek, LeMond claims that Trek tried to silence LeMond several times regarding his allegations of drug use by Armstrong. LeMond claims that Trek is failing to “exert best efforts regarding LeMond’s brand” in violation of their license agreement and that Trek may be “winding down” it’s promotion of LeMond bicycles to retaliate against LeMond’s commentary about doping in cycling. While Trek claims that that LeMond’s actions are hurting the Trek and LeMond brands, LeMond claims that he has seen no evidence of this. According to LeMond, Trek intentionally snubs LeMond by making no mention of his brand at dealer events and in promotional material.
Trek told retailers in a letter this morning that they will offer LeMond retailers a sales rebate promotion to help drive the sales of 2008 LeMond inventory.