By Jay Krieger
The speculation has been around for years: Is it feasibly possible that one man, who has overcome sickness, could win seven consecutive Tour De France titles? Well, despite Armstrong’s continued stance that he’s never doped, the UNITED STATES ANTI-DOPING AGENCY has found Armstrong guilty of doping and has stripped him of his seven Tour De France titles and banned him from Cycling. But it didn’t stop there, soon after the verdict Armstrong’s sponsors quickly vanished, one by one. It seemed that everything he had trained for all these years had vanished in a matter of minutes of the USADA decision. It was anticipated that sponsors would rush away from the controversy as quickly as possible, but what about the fate of non-profit donors?
Armstrong’s Live Strong charity foundation, a cancer organization, has recently seen donors asking for their money back and some even suggesting that the charity be disbanded, both a response to the news that Armstrong’s fame could be based on a lies and deceiving officials. Armstrong himself is a cancer survivor, as he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996 that would later spread to his lungs and brain. After extensive surgery and chemotherapy he was declared cancer free a year later and that same year he founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation LiveStrong.
The foundations stance is to inspire and empower cancer survivors and their families, and thanks to Armstrong’s fame they’ve become one of the biggest charities to date. In the last three years, 80 percent or more of the charity’s donations have gone towards programs for patients. During the course of my research I found that reputable websites like charitynavigator.org awarded the organization a 4 out 5, guidestar.org gave it 5 out of 5, and bbb.org gave it the title of an accredited charity and a “meets standard” for all categories. So, my question is this, if this charity is a reputable one and has a direct impact on those it’s aiming to help, why are some donors and others claiming the charity isn’t legitimate as it’s associated with Lance Armstrong?
Did he cheat his way to seven Tour De France titles? Most likely, yes. The fact that his falsified fame made him able to draw mass attention to his charities campaign, is actually a positive thing. Despite his possible dishonesty the lives of countless cancer patients lives were either changed or helped for the better. When dealing with a disease as ugly and devastating as cancer is it really important about personal choices that the figure head of the organization makes, if the end result of their work is benefiting a sick kid and those ailing from cancer? No, I don’t feel it should. At the end of the day it’s about benefiting those in need. And if you were donating to a charity based on who the figure head is, then you’re donating for probably the wrong reasons.
On October 17th of 2012, Armstrong stepped down as chairmen of the LiveStrong charity, clearly in an attempt to step away and to minimize the damage that he could bring to the organization. And while his sponsors may have stepped away from him, they haven’t from Livestrong, as Nike and others have continued to support the cancer charity, but some donors have lost site of the goal of LiveStrong in the wake of the USADA’s findings.
To be blunt, LiveStrong is not a charity for Lance Armstrong. Donations don’t go to him, period. This notion that somehow people feel their donation should be returned based on a possibility that he lied. His fame, whether obtained through legitimate or not , simply helped one of a number of cancer charities that’s goal is to help the sick and needy , be thrust into the line light. Do you remember in high school the Livestrong arm bracelet craze? I do. That was the first time a charity had stood out to me and more importantly got me to pay attention. The rationalization that by getting a donor’s money back somehow shows they don’t support Armstrong is a silly and childish notion, as the money isn’t for him. I’ve read a number of read comments on various news posts about some donors wanting their money back, as one reader put it, “ every dime should be returned, this charity is fraudulent”. The only thing that could possibly be fraudulent is Lance Armstrong’s integrity as an athlete, and this is where people are making aren’t making the distinction between a charity for cancer and it’s spokesmen. For example, every time a celebrity/movie star/musician has an affair or say does something that goes against a person’s ethics, what, are you going to return that CD or DVD? No. So why do people feel that they are entitled to take money away from a legitimate charity, and by asking for their donation back is only hurting those in need.