As the news was released overnight that Lance Armstrong would not be contesting the doping charges made by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) -- and would therefore be stripped of his athletic titles since August 1998 including all seven of his Tour de France championships and his 2000 Olympics bronze medal -- I contacted Lance Armstrong Foundation President and CEO Doug Ulman regarding how the organization would be dealing with the possible fallout.
Lance Armstrong issued a statement explaining that “enough is enough” and that he was “finished with this nonsense”-- the allegations made by the USADA that he had used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career.
He did not admit guilt, but his name was not officially cleared either and with the loss of his titles and being banned immediately from competing in elite-level sports for life, he has certainly suffered some tarnish.
And in situations where an individual founder is synonymous with an organization, there is always the potential for some collateral damage, as witnessed by the recent leadership shakeup at Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Although Ulman wasn’t available to comment, I did speak with Heidi Adams, LAF’s Vice President for Strategic Partnerships who reported that “it’s been an interesting day with donors and supporters reassuring us” of their continuing loyalty.
“We are glad that this distraction is gone and we can refocus on our mission. It’s been interesting to see people coming out of the woodwork to tell us to continue with our work and mission.”
She said that LAF’s work speaks for itself, and there are many people and survivors “who find Lance inspiring...period.”
“We’ve had people walk in our doors today with checks and the American Cancer Society and other advocacy partners have been expressing support,” she said, adding that Armstrong would continue to be the face of the organization and would be attending the World Cancer Congress next week in Montreal.
“Lance hasn’t been found guilty of anything. The proceedings are questionable and [the situation] is not worth the distraction,” she said, agreeing to speak with me again in the near future after the dust settles some more.