By Neil Reid

Lion have scrapped its much-vaunted promotional campaign featuring drugs cheat Lance Armstrong.

The brewing giants brought the disgraced cyclist to New Zealand late last year to film a marketing campaign with the working title of 'The Consequence'.

Armstrong was once the darling of world sport - with fans around the world in awe about the fact he won the Tour de France, cycling's toughest event, after beating cancer.

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But that legacy was left in tatters when he was later revealed as a drugs cheat who had bullied for years those who stood up to him and exposed the truth about his use of performance enhancing substances.

Lion yesterday confirmed that 'The Consequence' had been scrapped.

"Earlier this year we decided not to proceed with using Lance Armstrong in a Steinlager Pure advertising campaign," Genevieve O'Halloran, Lion's external relations manager said.

"We had originally considered using Armstrong to tell a cautionary tale about how much you stand to lose when you don't keep it pure. That said, we listened carefully to what people had to say, and decided not to use him in any capacity.

"We chose to focus our investment instead on the hugely successful Steinlager Tokyo Dry campaign."

Lion would not talk about the financial cost of the axed campaign.

Armstrong was stripped of seven Tour de France titles after confessing to benefiting from a sophisticated covert doping programme.

The former Olympian also lost tens of millions of dollars in legal wrangling and loss of sponsor support.

Confirming Armstrong's involvement in the planned Lion campaign last year, a spokeswoman said at the time: "We are using Lance to tell a cautionary tale called 'The Consequence' which depicts how much you stand to lose when you pursue success at all costs.

"We want to highlight that actions have consequences and we couldn't think of anyone better to demonstrate that."

While several hundred cyclists turned up for a public cycle along the Auckland waterfront with Armstrong while he was here, the campaign was also widely slammed.

Among critics were veteran Labour MP Trevor Mallard who announced he would boycott Lion products.

Supporters of greater punishments for drugs cheats also criticised the campaign.

The campaign was also described as a "very strange move" from Lion by Otago University marketing associate professor Robert Aitken.