Armstrong steps down as chairman of Livestrong

Thu, Oct 18, 2012, 01:00

CYCLING:A WEEK after the US Anti-Doping Agency made public its evidence in a doping case against Lance Armstrong, saying he was at the centre of an organised doping programme on his Tour de France-winning teams, Armstrong yesterday stepped down as chairman of Livestrong, his cancer foundation, the organisation that inspired millions fighting the disease.

The fallout from the anti-doping agency’s report also prompted Nike, the company that stood by Armstrong through more than a decade’s worth of doping allegations, to terminate his contract yesterday.

“This organisation, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart,” Armstrong said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. “Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.”

Armstrong, the seven-time Tour winner who denies ever doping, founded the organisation in 1997 after he survived testicular cancer and it sold millions of yellow Livestrong wristbands and went on to partner with Nike to sell millions of dollars of Livestrong gear.

Jeff Garvey, the vice-chairman of the organisation, will become chairman, while Armstrong will remain on the foundation’s board.

In a statement yesterday, Nike said the evidence that Armstrong had doped was so overwhelming that it could no longer partner with him.

In the past, the company stood by athletes like Kobe Bryant, who was accused of sexual assault but never convicted; Michael Vick, who was convicted and served time in a federal prison for his role in a dogfighting ring; and Tiger Woods, who gained international notoriety for his extramarital affairs.

“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,” the statement said. “Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in any manner. Nike plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer.”

The anti-doping agency released its report last Wednesday, revealing the details of what it called the most sophisticated doping programme in recent sports history.

The report said Armstrong doped, supplied doping products to team-mates and demanded that some of them dope to help him win. The account included 11 of his former team-mates, including his road captain, George Hincapie, who helped him win all seven Tours, and testimony from 26 people.

The anti-doping agency released its dossier on Armstrong the same day it sent it to the International Cycling Union and to the World Anti-Doping Agency, which have the right to appeal the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

In August, Armstrong announced he would not fight the case and waived his right to a hearing.

He said contesting the charges would have taken too much of a toll on his family and his work with his foundation.

The foundation plans to celebrate its 15th anniversary in Austin, Texas, this weekend, with thousands of people – including stars like Maria Shriver – expected to attend.

New York Times Service


Top young US rider Taylor Phinney has spoken about his disillusionment with the Lance Armstrong and US Postal Service team doping case, saying he completely understands fans who are demoralised with those who used performance-enhancing substances, writes Shane Stokes.

“There are a lot of people who have lost the faith and I completely understand that,” he told The Irish Times this week, speaking of Armstrong supporters. “The main thing I like to remind people is that guys who are my age are in a similar position. I was a fan of the sport during that whole era, and so I feel the same sense of betrayal as well. I have gone through the same emotions as the fans have.”

Phinney finished fourth in the Olympic Games road race and time trial, and was just five seconds off the gold medal in the world time trial championships.

The second-year professional has been seen by some as a possible successor to Armstrong. Previously part of Armstrong’s Livestrong Bontrager team, he was pinpointed by the Texan as one of US cycling’s big talents. However, expectations the older rider would seek to shape his career proved inaccurate, as Phinney signed for the BMC Racing Team of Cadel Evans in 2010, rather than going to the RadioShack Nissan elite team. The 22-year-old yesterday said: “I am confident in this sport’s ability to turn itself around.”

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