The world of professional sports was rocked by yet another scandal. The scandal could also have a significant impact on one well-known nonprofit organization.
While simmering for years, the story involving Lance Armstrong reached a full boil recently when the seven-time Tour de France winner and cycling legend gave up his fight against the doping charges levied by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. That move cleared the way for USADA to strip Armstrong of his titles and ban him from any sports competition following the World Anti-Doping Code.
While Armstrong has decided not to fight the charges, both the International Cycling Union and the World Anti-Doping Agency have the right to appeal USADA’s ruling and are expected to do so. This means the story is likely far from over.
In addition to being a (former) champion cyclist, Armstrong is also the Founder of The Lance Armstrong Foundation which is also known as LIVESTRONG (LIVESTRONG.org). Armstrong serves as Chairman of The Lance Armstrong Foundation. The Foundation has a partnership with LIVESTRONG.com which is licensed by the Foundation.
For its part, The Lance Armstrong Foundation issued a strong statement of support for Armstrong. And, at least early on, the public also seems to be expressing its support for Armstrong. USA Today reported that by 3:30 PM of the day of the USADA announcement, the Foundation received about $80,000 from online donors, dramatically greater than its $3,000 daily average.
While questions remain about Armstrong and doping, there is no question that the Foundation has had a positive impact on the lives of millions of people. As my wife has battled Ovarian Cancer, I’ve even been one of the frequent visitors to the LIVESTRONG websites. The sites provide a tremendous amount of information and connections to valuable resources.
Since its inception in 1997, The Lance Armstrong Foundation has raised more than $470 million to support its mission to inspire and empower people affected by cancer, according to the organization’s website.
Unfortunately, while Lance Armstrong maintains his innocence citing his negative doping tests, a dark cloud remains over him as a result of the USADA ruling. That’s about the best that can be said of the situation. At worst, the USADA ruling reveals Armstrong to be a cheat and a liar.
Given the damage that has been done to Armstrong’s reputation, should he resign the Chairmanship of The Lance Armstrong Foundation? Putting his ego aside, would it be better or worse for the Foundation to have Armstrong step down?
While my feelings on the situation are evolving, there is one thing of which I am certain: Armstrong should make his decision about his Foundation position based on what is best for the people who benefit from the Foundation’s services. It’s no longer just about him, it’s about them. However, what is best for them remains unclear at this time.
I invite you to share your thoughts below. Also, I encourage you to participate in the poll.
That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?
UPDATE: (Oct. 18, 2012): Lance Armstrong has announced his resignation as Chairman of The LIVESTRONG Foundation though he will remain on the board. You can read my full update here.