Lance Armstrong‘s reputation has been more than tarnished since the USADA’s report came out last week with 1,000 pages of evidence that the cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France winner was doping throughout his career. He’s been mum on the reports, mostly pointing to his focus on Livestrong Foundation, the cancer-fighting charity that he started in 1996. But yesterday, he stepped down from his role as Livestrong chairman, explaining that he doesn’t want the organization to suffer because of the controversy surrounding his cycling career.
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. Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.
Which, for many fans, will be the final confirmation that USADA’s accusations are true.
His statement also explains that he still takes pride in the organization, and plans to remain involved:
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 organization that today has served 2.5 million people and helped spur a cultural shift in how the world views cancer survivors. This organization, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart.
My family and I have devoted our lives to the work of the foundation and that will not change. We plan to continue our service to the foundation and the cancer community. We will remain active advocates for cancer survivors and engaged supporters of the fight against cancer. And we look forward to an exciting weekend of activities marking the 15th anniversary of the foundation’s creation.
Jeff Garvey, who was Vice Chairman under Lance, will take over duties as Chairman.
His statement not only signals that Armstrong is guilty as charged (although technically, the International Cycling Union has 21 days to formally ratify the USADA’s decision to strip his Tour de France titles)–it’s also the beginning of what could be a difficult road for Livestrong, which has long been practically synonymous with the athlete. The organization has already been under some criticism for its purported mission, and whether its spending is commensurate with those goals; without Lance, it’s unclear whether the organization will suffer or thrive.
As writer Bill Gifford put it earlier this year:
In a sense, Livestrong and Lance are like conjoined twins, each depending on the other for survival. Separating them—or even figuring out where one ends and the other begins—is no small task. The foundation is a major reason why sponsors are attracted to Armstrong; as his agent Bill Stapleton put it in 2001, his survivor story “broadened and deepened the brand … and then everybody wanted him.” But the reverse is also true: Without Lance, Livestrong would be just another cancer charity scrapping for funds.
Now we’ll just have to wait and see.