Lance Armstrong Steps Down as Livestrong Chairman, Dropped by Nike (VIDEO)
Cycling champion Lance Armstrong is saying goodbye to the chairmanship of his beloved cancer charity, Livestrong, stepping down as the organization's leader to "spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career," he said in a statement on the group's website.
"I am deeply grateful to the people of the foundation who have done such hard and excellent work over the last 15 years, building tangible and effective ways to improve the lives of cancer survivors," the statement continued. "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."
Though Armstrong is abdicating his leadership role, "my family and I have devoted our lives to the work of the foundation and that will not change," explained the Livestrong founder, who will remain on the charity's 15-member board. "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."
The announcement comes on the heels of the United State Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) releasing a report — with statements from 26 witnesses, including 11 former teammates — containing overwhelming evidence of Armstrong's deep involvement in a doping ring.
In early August, the cycling champ announced that he would drop his fight against the USADA's doping charges. As a result, the agency is threatening to ban him from the sport for life and strip him of his wins — which include seven Tour de France titles — since 1998.
At the time, the athlete released a two-page statement, saying he would shift focus to Livestrong. "I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances," wrote Armstrong, who founded Livestrong in 1996, just as his battle with testicular cancer — which spread to his brain and lungs after his diagnosis at age 25 — was winding down. "We have a lot of work to do and I’m looking forward to an end to this pointless distraction. I have a responsibility to all those who have stepped forward to devote their time and energy to the cancer cause."website. "Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner."
But the global sports gear retailer — which had a deal with Armstrong since 1996 — will "continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer." In partnership with the fundraising foundation, Nike created a craze in the now classic yellow Livestrong wristbands, the sales of which raised more than $80 million for the charity.
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