Livestrong, or the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the cancer advocacy and awareness organization started by the megastar athlete, is likely to suffer a decline in revenue this year of between 10 and 20 percent. LAF pulled in about $50 million a year in 2009 and 2010, despite a sluggish economy. The estimate came by way of a statement from Doug White, the academic director of New York University’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy & Fundraising. It’s based on past examples of other charities that have faced scandal.
Public scrutiny intensified recently when former teammate and known doper Tyler Hamilton appeared on 60 Minutes to finally cop to using performance enhancing drugs for much of his professional career, and to reveal some very damaging things about Armstrong, the leadership of the U.S. Postal team, as well as details about how the drugs are doled out and when (before competition, not during). The bombshell was Hamilton’s assertion that Armstrong has indeed tested positive, but worked with race organizers to cover it up. If you look closely at Armstrong’s quotes in the media, they are always variations on never-tested-positive rather than never-doped.
Immediately after the interview, Lance’s camp went on the defensive with a terse, lawyerly letter to CBS EP Jeff Fager calling the story “recklessly presented.”
Hamilton and several others in the sport were subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury about Armstrong and doping in the sport of bike racing as part of the FDA’s investigation run by Jeff Novitzky, the guy who nailed Barry Bonds and Marion Jones.
Since last summer, Lance has had top crisis people on his team including “master of disaster” Mark Fabiani, known for his work with the Clintons in the 1990s.
It is likely that Livestrong will suffer setbacks since Armstrong’s name is inextricably linked with it. He is arguably the most successful athlete ever to translate both his success in the sport and incredible comeback narrative in to a cause marketing juggernaut. Some in the sport argue that taking him down, post-retirement, does little to repair the tarnished sport. Other interesting wrinkles this week include the release of repentant doper David Millar’s autobiography, and the shuttering of Facts4Lance.com, the site put up by Armstrong to discredit Hamilton and Floyd Landis. It’s no longer needed since 60 Minutes‘ report has been “completely debunked,” according to Fabiani.