Beset last year by scandals and internecine warfare, the United States Olympic Committee signalled its return to respectability on Thursday with the announcement of corporate sponsorship by footwear and apparel titan Nike.

The deal ousts current benefactor, German-based global sportswear firm Adidas whose contract with the USOC runs out after this year's Summer Olympics in Athens.

Its also signifies the US business community's absolution of the scandals that have beset USOC in the past few years. Just one year ago David D'Alessandro, chairman/ceo of John Hancock Financial Services, publicly slammed the sports body threatening he would "yank our sponsorship in a minute" if USOC didn't mend its ways within twelve to eighteen months.

The controversies that have racked the organization since 1999 triggered the premature departure of no fewer than four presidents, two of whom quit in the wake of ethical upheavals.

In 1999, USOC's organizing committee for the Salt Lake City Winter Games was discovered to have bribed members of the International Olympic Committee.

Shortly after this USOC chief executive Lloyd Ward resigned after directing Olympic-related contracts to his brother's business. And in February 2003 USOC president Marty Mankamyer stepped down amid accusations that she used her presidency for personal profit.

Since then incoming president Bill Martin, director of athletics at the University of Michigan, has restored confidence in USOC's integrity and rebuilt sponsorship bridges. He has also slimmed the organization's obese management structure, slashing its board of directors from 123 members to just eleven.

Both USOC and Nike are coy about the number of dollars underpinning the sponsorship, revealing only that the deal becomes effective in 2005.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff