My Life With Lance
Drugs and the Peloton
LIVESTRONG COULD FACE THE SAME KIND OF LEGAL TROUBLE THE CENTRAL ASIA INSTITUTE HAS FACED
Obviously, some donors will stick with Livestrong and some will drop it—we won’t know for some time what the impact of recent developments will be on the organization. But what about the legal action that occurred after Jon Krakauer revealed that Greg Mortenson’s books, Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools, contained numerous factual fabrications? Several donors sued in the aftermath, saying that they were tricked into donating to the institute by Mortenson’s fictions.
Couldn’t the same logic be applied to It’s Not About the Bike, Armstrong’s biography, which rests on the foundation that he raced clean?
Morton, who specializes in leveraging celebrity for philanthropies, explains that “there is a very high bar for a donor, as a legal matter, to get refunded. As a matter of business judgment, I have been involved with requests from donors who, for various half-baked reasons, wanted money back—and yes, politically, you just give it back. It’s easier.”
So far, the progress of the Mortenson lawsuit supports that view. The federal judge hearing the case dismissed it, calling it “fraught with shortcomings.” The case is now in appeal.
After news of USADA’s decision to sanction Armstrong broke in late August, donations to Livestrong actually increased. Since then, there have been questions about the rate of giving, but Livestrong doesn’t appear to be in dire peril because of its association with Armstrong. A Kansas City Stadium called Livestrong Sporting Park, owned by an outfit called Sporting Kansas City, shares revenue with the foundation. Officials tell Outside there are no plans to change the nature of the relationship.
IN SHORT, ARMSTRONG HAS nothing to gain by saying anything. Lipman says that, if he were advising somebody in Armstrong’s position, he’d say: “What is the plus for you? You admit it and you get sued, indicted, charged.”
But what about Armstrong’s future as a philanthropist and amateur athlete who still enjoys staying fit and competing? That’s uncertain, of course. If the current bans against participating in athletic contests that adhere to the World Anti-Doping Code holds, Armstrong won’t be doing any big-time mountain biking, triathlon competing, or marathon running.
But he doesn’t need to do any of those things to keep a high profile. While many bike aficionados have strongly praised Hamilton’s book and USADA’s actions, to many average people—whose knowledge of cycling begins and ends with Armstrong—all this inside-the-spokes news is shrugworthy. Many either accept that Armstrong doped and simply don’t care, or deny that he doped and think he’s been unjustly hunted by USADA chief Travis Tygart. Others don’t think it matters either way, because Armstrong has led a worldwide effort to advocate for cancer survivors through the Livestrong Foundation.