It's 'only' a matter of image if he hasn't either used the Nike connection in the wrong way or taken instruction in matters relating to running from that company in his roles within athletics. I'm sorry, but since he's been elected to clean the stables out, he should be totally above any sort of criticism. The Nike thing should have been dumped long ago - he surely doesn't need it financially, and it's now starting to rebound on him. It was an accident waiting to happen and shows poor judgement.
They can see that you have been working for 28 years, so as long as you fill something in they will be satisfied that you have been searching for work.
Unfortunately, the people at the Job Centre regularly deal with the the type of people that will do anything to avoid finding a work and who have been playing the benefits system for years, so this makes them distrustful of anyone that they deal with. The problem is that this means that genuine people like you who are signing on on whilst they are looking for a job get treated unfairly by the Job Centre staff. I had to go there earlier on this year for a few weeks until I found a job, and the computer skills of the staff in there are diabolical. They have trouble operating the most basic of systems. This is probably the only work that they can find. They seemed quite surprised when I managed to find a job after signing on for six weeks, as a lot of people that sign on at that particular job centre end up going there for years.
Good luck with the job search and I'm sure that something will come up soon.
Speaking less cynically, I think it's also to do with the fact that they have quotas to fulfill. Have you noticed how many people who can't possibly work have been told they are fit for work and denied benefits? (or, more properly, social security) Or have you seen the figures for suicides related to this?
There's lots of issues here. Money and professionalism can be seen as good things - back in the 'amateur' days, few people of poor means could actually take part in sport at a high level because they had to actually work for a living.
The only thing I'd say on that is, sure, money can lead to corruption, but cheating goes way way back in all sports (look at the second ever Tour de France in 1904), a long time before real megabucks were involved - so I think it goes beyond money to glory, to esteem and self-esteem, to ego and the need to win. I wonder if money was the main motivator for athletes doped under the East German regime...