Sweden’s Cerealia food group has called off its sponsor programme with Russian-born former 100m hurdles world and Olympic champion Ludmila Engquist after she admitted she had used banned steriods.
Engqvist, now a naturalised Swedish citizen, was under a three-year contract with Cerealia together with a couple other Swedish female athletes, which also features a Sports club, Axa Sports Club, in which Engquist held a position on the board.
Ludmila Engquist was the marketing portal figure around whom Cerealia had built up its healthy image, and her picture was featured on several of the group’s Axa breakfast cereal products. All those packages have been recalled from the supermarket shelves.
The negative impact on Cerealia and other sponsors of Engquist is difficult to measure, but costs associated with pulling back products from the market and re-shaping the marketing profile will soon add up to millions.
“We are disappointed and angry. Based on the information that has come up regarding Ludmila and doping, we have, with immediate effect, broken our cooperation. Ludmila and her advisor have seriously violated our agreement and we are considering taking legal actions,” said Håkan Lundstedt, mananging director of Cerealia Food.
It was this past weekend Ludmila Engquist admitted she had used banned steriods in her preperation for the bobsleigh competition in the Salt Lake City’s 2002 Winter Olympics. She started her second career as a bobsleigh runner a couple a years ago after a breast cancer ordeal stopped her from continuing her athlete career.
Embarrassing as it may be for Cerealia, Lundstedt at Cerealia Foods said that despite what had happened, the company would continue to sponsor Swedish atheletes. “(But) as part of our future commitment, we will evaluate whether we also can support various anti-doping programmes,” he said.