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A Nike advertisement featuring Oscar Pistorius and the phrase "I am the bullet in the chamber" has been pulled from the South African athlete's website after he was charged with murdering his model girlfriend in his luxury gated housing complex.
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Pistorius ad an 'absolute disaster'
A Nike advertisement referring to Oscar Pistorius as "the bullet in the chamber" is removed from his website after the paralympian was charged with murdering his girlfriend.
The ad shows an image of the double-amputee sprinter known as the Blade Runner breaking out of the starting blocks, accompanied by Nike's Just Do It catchphrase and the gun slogan.
The image of Pistorius from the Nike ad still appears at the top of his official website, but the ad's slogan no longer appears.
Nike issued a statement after the 26-year-old was charged with shooting dead his girlfriend of two months, Reeva Steenkamp, at his Pretoria home in the early hours of Valentine's Day. The 30-year-old model and law graduate was shot four times in the head, chest and arm.
“Nike extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to all families concerned following this tragic incident. As it is a police matter, Nike will not comment further at this time,” Nike said.
Pistorius is joined by several other prominent South African athletes in another Nike ad that likens an athlete's body to a weapon.
Tim Allerton, managing director of Sydney-based City Public Relations, said it was the right move for Nike to issue a statement of sympathy.
"It's the danger in basing advertising campaigns around personalities or sportspeople, because they're one step away from being an absolute disaster," he said.
"We've seen many cases of that over the years, and this is just another one."
A recent example was that of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, another face of Nike who recently admitted to using performance enhancing drugs.
Nike ended its relationship with Armstrong in October, before Armstrong had admitted to cheating. Tiger Woods was also sponsored by Nike when his sex scandal blew up.
Nike extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to all families concerned following this tragic incident.
Oscar Pistorius was remanded in custody after being formally charged with the murder of his girlfriend. He is facing a possible life sentence.
Early reports suggested the sprinter, who in the past has admitted to sleeping with a pistol next to his bed and a machine gun by a window, may have shot his girlfriend after mistaking her for a burglar.
South African journalist Kalay Maistry told Sky News that it was believed that Steenkamp had crept into the home to surprise Pistorius for Valentine's Day.
"It is alleged that he thought his girlfriend, who'd come in to try to surprise him for Valentine's Day, was an intruder. It's alleged that he shot her in the arm and head," Maistry said.
"I think what this actually highlights is the level of fear ordinary South Africans have.
"This is a man who has gone to bed, it's an innocent surprise from a girlfriend … and the moment he thinks someone is trying to break in he grabs his gun.
"This has come as a complete surprise for a man who's considered a national hero."
However, South African police later poured cold water on media reports that she had been mistaken as an intruder.
"We were surprised by allegations that the deceased had been perceived to be a burglar," said police spokeswoman Denise Beukes.
She said there was no sign of forced entry at Pistorius's home. "The premises are fairly secure ... This is a fairly secure estate."
In November last year, Pistorius tweeted about his fear of intruders in his home.
"Nothing like getting home to hear the washing machine on and thinking its an intruder to go into full combat recon mode into the pantry! waa," he tweeted on November 27.
Steenkamp was well-known in South Africa, where she was a celebrity contestant on the reality television show Tropika Island of Treasure. She was one of FHM magazine's 100 Sexiest Women in the World for two years running, appeared in international and South African advertisements and was the South African face of Avon cosmetics.
The day before her death, Steenkamp wrote excitedly on Twitter about her plans for Valentine's Day.
"What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow??? #getexcited #ValentinesDay," she tweeted.
Replying to a follower, she tweeted: "That sounds amazing! Wow that's what it's all about! It should be a day of love for everyone :) may it be blessed!"
Her last Instagram image, posted five days ago, is of a cartoon female face being hit by a hand, alongside the words: "I woke up in a happy safe home this morning. Not everyone did. Speak out against the rape of individuals in SA. RIP Anene Booysen. #rape #crime #sayNO."
She was referring to the death of 17-year-old Anene Booysen, who was gang-raped, murdered and mutilated at a construction site in Bredasdorp, a rural town close to Cape Town.
Steenkamp had been due to speak at a Johannesburg school on the day of her death about the empowerment of women.