Tag Heuer to drop Woods from US advertising

Swiss watch maker Tag Heuer said today that it will not use Tiger Woods’ image in advertising campaigns in the United States for the foreseeable future.

Chief executive Jean-Christophe Babin told Swiss daily Le Matin that the company was reacting to “recent events” surrounding the golfer.

“We recognise Tiger Woods as a great sportsman but we have to take account of the sensitivity of some consumers in relation to recent events,” he was quoted as saying.

Woods has taken an indefinite leave from golf to work on repairing his marriage after numerous allegations of infidelities.

The newspaper said Tag Heuer would continue to support Woods’ charitable foundation but would use other brand ambassadors in US ads, including actor Leonardo Di Caprio.

The watch maker could not immediately be reached for comment because the story was released on the newspaper’s website after Tag Heuer’s headquarters at La Chaux-de-Fonds closed for the holidays until January 4. The full interview was to be published in Saturday’s editions of Le Matin.

Tag Heuer joins other sponsors in backing away from Woods as his image has taken a beating since a Thanksgiving holiday car accident at the golfer’s Florida home was followed by an admission of extramarital “transgressions”.

Consulting firm Accenture dropped him as its representative last weekend, and Gillette said it would stop airing his ads for their razors.

Tag Heuer initially said on Monday that it would stand by Woods, but moderated its support later that day by saying it would assess its relationship with the world’s highest-earning sportsman.

Meanwhile in a separate development, the lawyer for the doctor whose case was heard in a Toronto court today on charges including selling an unapproved drug has said that the whole matter had “absolutely nothing to do with Tiger Woods”.

Tony Galea treated Woods as he recovered from knee surgery last year, but his attorney Brian Greenspan stated on the steps of the courthouse: “Dr Galea has not been and is not involved in providing performance-enhacing drugs to competitive athletes.

“Any suggestion of a linkage to Tiger Woods is non-existent.”

Galea has been charged by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with four violations – selling the unapproved drug Actovegin, conspiracy to import an unapproved drug, conspiracy to export a drug and smuggling goods into Canada.

The maximum sentence is five years in prison.

Galea, who was not present for the brief hearing, treated Woods with the controversial but legal “blood-spinning” procedure.

The charges against him were announced and the prosecutor handed over a thick binder containing documents that outline the evidence to date.

Greenspan will return to the court on January 28 and the prosecution will hand over whatever additional evidence has been gathered.

The case will be made public only if it goes to trial.

Greenspan also told reporters: “If you are here to ask about Tiger Woods that’s not the story today – and it’s not really the story of Dr Galea.

“Tiger Woods happened to be a patient who he assisted in his rehabilitation programme after his surgery and apparently, according to all reports, was very successful in assisting Tiger Woods to return to golf earlier than was anticipated.

“His primary practice, particularly when it comes to athletes, is in addressing their injuries. He is not engaged or involved with performance-enhancement. He deals with injuries.”

Greenspan said the doctor’s work also included helping people over the age of 40 enhance their lifestyle with innovative medicine techniques.

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