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LONDON, Feb 21 AFP

February 21 2013, 10:28PM

US sportswear giant Nike has suspended its contract with Oscar Pistorius after the South African Paralympic star was charged with murdering his girlfriend.

"Nike has suspended its contract with Oscar Pistorius," the firm's UK and Ireland spokesman told AFP on Thursday.

"We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely."

Seen worldwide as an inspirational athlete, Pistorius, who has both legs amputated below the knee, is linked to several corporate giants.

He is facing murder charges over the Valentine's Day shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in South Africa.

Pistorius, who became the first double amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes in the Olympics at the 2012 London Games, says he shot Steenkamp by mistake through a bathroom door, believing she was a burglar.

Pistorius earned millions in endorsements but the murder charge saw billboards featuring his image taken down soon after the news broke.

An advert for Nike showing Pistorius setting off from the starting blocks with the line "I am the bullet in the chamber" has been removed from the runner's personal website.

A Nike spokesman confirmed on Tuesday the sporting goods and apparel manufacturer had "no plans for Oscar Pistorius in upcoming campaigns".

Golf icon Tiger Woods, another Nike-backed athlete, retained the endorsement of the company during his infamous sex scandal when other sponsors severed ties with the then-married father of two.