Lance Armstrong Steps Down as Livestrong Chairman, Nike Severs Ties With Athlete

Lance Armstrong. Photo: Andersbjorkhaug/Flickr

On Tuesday, the Livestrong Foundation announced Lance Armstrong’s decision to step down as chairman. "I have had the great honor of serving as this foundation's chairman for the last five years and its mission and success are my top priorities,” said Armstrong in a press release. “Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship."

The Associated Press soon reported that, "Within minutes, Nike said that it would end its relationship with him 'due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade.'" The decision came a day after a group of cyclists protested the athletic company's involvement with Armstrong. Nike will continue to work with Livestrong, according to the AP.

The decisions came roughly a week after the USADA released a report that said Armstrong was the ringleader in "a massive team doping scheme, more extensive than any previously revealed in professional sports history."

Livestrong president and CEO Doug Ulman said the charity has raised close to $500 million to help people affected by cancer. In 2011, Livestrong announced that it made more than $35 million and spent more than $29 million on program activities. The past two years have seen numerous stories speculating on what the future of the charity would look like if Lance Armstrong was charged with doping, including Bill Gifford’s Outside article, “It’s Not About the Lab Rats.” In that story, Gifford writes that while the U.S. attorney’s office in California was investigating Armstrong for doping, Ulman had a quote from Ken Berger, the head of Charity Navigator, taped to his wall. “It is just going to devastate them,” he said in an Associated Press article.

The U.S. attorney’s investigation was dropped in February of 2012, but the USADA soon conducted its own investigation. They brought charges of doping against Armstrong in August of this year. When Armstrong decided not to fight the charges in arbitration, the USADA banned him for life and stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles. Livestrong said contributions spiked following Armstrong's decision not to go to arbitration.

Last week's USADA report against Armstrong included numerous details of his doping based on testimony from 26 witnesses, including testimony from 11 former teammates. On October 11, the AP published a YouTube video in which the founder and president of Charity Watch, Daniel Borochoff, offered a suggestion to Armstrong after the report. He recommended Armstrong step down as the head of the organization and remove himself from the board, but stay on in an advisory role. "My advice to Lance Armstrong would be for him to step away from being the public face of the charity because of the credibility and trust problem," said Borochoff.

Armstrong chose to step down as chairman and remain as a member of the board. He will go to the organization's 15th anniversary celebration this weekend. "My family and I have devoted our lives to the work of the foundation and that will not change," he said in a press release. "We plan to continue our service to the foundation and the cancer community."

For more on the relationship between Livestrong and Lance Armstrong, and to find out how the organization spends its money, read “It’s Not About the Lab Rats,” by Bill Gifford.

H/T: Associated Press

—Joe Spring

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