US trade journal Advertising Age has reported the US Postal Service is "poised to abandon its lead sponsorship of Lance Armstrong and the U.S. Pro Cycling Team" when their contract expires in December.
The Postal Service began the estimated $10 million-a-year marketing initiative in 1996 and Lance Armstrong has since led the international cycling team to five consecutive Tour de France victories (and acres of newsprint and other media exposure for USPS).
PostalWatch executive director Rick Merritt said:
"Talk about a government boondoggle, the pro-cycling sponsorship exemplifies just how delusional postal leadership can be. They raised domestic monopoly rates three times while forcing captive ratepayers to pay more than $50 million to sponsor a European sporting event and then, adding insult to injury, they achieved a negative result.
"This is just one more stunning example of the Postal Service indulging its misguided obsession with pretending to be a commercial enterprise, instead of what it really is; an accountability-challenged governmental bureaucracy with a statutory monopoly over domestic mail delivery."
US Postal Service directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel told cyclingnews.com that sponsorship talks were ongoing.
"Yes, we've known about the Advertising Age article since it came out last week, but officially we have no notification from the US Postal Service whether or not they'll continue the sponsorship. We're still talking to them about everything. We're still very positive about moving forward with them."
NOTE: According to Michael Quinion of World Wide Words, boondoggle describes "work of little or no value done merely to appear busy, or in reference to a government-funded project with no purpose other than political patronage." it may have been coined by Scoutmaster Robert H Link of Rochester who used it for "the braided leather lanyards made and worn by Boy Scouts, or for other small craft projects intended to keep Scouts out of mischief."