The fallout from the Lance Armstrong doping scandal continued yesterday as the disgraced cyclist stepped down as chairman of his cancer charity, Livestrong, and was dropped by sponsor Nike.
The American was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from cycling for life by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in August after he chose not to contest charges, despite maintaining his innocence. But Armstrong’s reputation really hit rock bottom a week ago when USADA published their report, including evidence from 11 of his former teammates. The conclusion was that Armstrong engaged in “serial cheating” and his US Postal Service team ran “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.
Armstrong built a reputation around the world not just for his prowess on a bike but also as one of the giants of the charity sector for his work supporting cancer victims.
He set up Livestrong in 1997 following his own recovery from the disease, which made his subsequent sporting success such a compelling story, and the charity has raised nearly 500million US dollars to help people affected by cancer.
Explaining his decision to pass the chairmanship of the foundation to vice-chairman Jeff Garvey, Armstrong said in a statement: “In 1996, as my cancer treatment was drawing to an end, I created a foundation to serve people affected by cancer.
“It has been a great privilege to help grow it from a dream into an organisation that today has served 2.5million people and helped spur a cultural shift in how the world views cancer survivors. This organisation, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart.”
Nike have been a long-time supporter of Armstrong and had stood by him despite criticism but the sportswear giant yesterday decided they could no longer do so, although they are not severing ties with Livestrong.
In a short statement, Nike said: “Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him.”