Lance Armstrong has announced he will step down as Livestrong's chairman, a week after the US Anti-Doping Agency announced it had "uncovered overwhelming evidence of Armstrong's involvement in a sophisticated doping program while a professional cyclist."
According to CNN, Armstrong's decision to step down was announced the same day Nike announced it was ending "its endorsement contract with Armstrong amid 'seemingly insurmountable evidence' that he participat[ed] in doping."
Although Armstrong continues to deny the doping, his decision to leave Livestrong was to "spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career."
Good luck with that.
Perhaps I'm jaded, but when Armstrong made sure to brand his charity and his athletic success synonymously, he guaranteed one would affect the other. He leveraged his status as a comeback kid (he won his seven Tour de France titles after his bout with testicular cancer) to launch Livestrong. His athletic success and the charity's success have gone hand in hand. (I mean, the yellow LIVESTRONG wristband is the exact yellow of the Tour de France leader's jersey!) And to learn he won because he doped makes me angry.
Am I alone in this?
Nike states that it won't endorse Armstrong anymore, but will continue to "support Livestrong initiatives." Is that really any different? I think of one, I think of the other. Armstrong is the poster child for how to do celebrity philanthropy.
Here's what Michael Pearson of CNN says about him:
His success became an inspiration for cancer patients worldwide, spreading his reach far beyond the insular world of cycling and cementing a place in celebrity culture, dating a rock star and appearing in movies. The bright yellow "LIVESTRONG" wristbands distribute by his charity became a potent symbol for perseverance in the face of adversity.
Livestrong is Armstrong. You cannot separate the two.
Does Livestrong do good work? Yes. Should it continue? Yes. But I'm going to take the unpopular stance of saying the Emperor has no clothes on this one. To ignore Armstrong's doping because he launched a successful charity (on the back of cycling wins he accomplished via doping), simply because he is Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor, is na´ve at best, and willfully ignorant at worst.
Personally, I cannot agree with this Emperor's means to an end, and ignore the obvious simply because of his yellow wristband.