It’s almost implausible, but somehow, someway, beleaguered cyclist Lance Armstrong needs to fall on his sword and divorce himself from the organization that bears his name, The Lance Armstrong Foundation.
The degree of difficulty: extreme. The importance doing so (and quickly): vital.
That’s the bad news in the wake of Armstrong’s decision to allow cycling’s governing body the USADA to strip him of his seven Tour de France titles, publicly branding him a cheater.
The good news is that the success of the Livestrong name and organization, coupled with the dropping of Lance Armstrong’s would enable the nonprofit, cancer support organization to move forward and in a handful of years Armstrong’s involvement might be all but forgotten.
That’s the way many mindsets work today.
Check out the Muscular Dystrophy Association Web site and try and find any evidence whatsoever of longtime pitch man Jerry Lewis. Lewis was ousted last year by the organization after hosting of its annual Labor Day Telethon for 45 years.
Armstrong’s foundation is only 15 years old and his last Tour de France win was five years ago in 2007.
Chances are most younger people today know Armstrong more for his years of battling doping charges than for his long-tainted tour victories. Victories that will be increasingly forgotten in the days ahead given that he’s all but certain to have those wins vacated.
When Armstrong showed up here at Livestrong Sporting Park a couple years ago for the stadium naming announcement it was clear he was a fallen man. He arrived late and steered clear of most of the media.
Maybe I’m reaching a little, but there appeared little joy in that moment for Armstrong. He looked like a guy who’d been busted bad, over and again and was hanging on for dear life to what little was left of a tarnished reputation.
“Depending on your point of view, it is either a shameless admission of guilt or a dignified withdrawal from a process designed with the sole purpose of discrediting him,” The Telegraph‘s Jonathan Liew writes. “Armstrong continues to deny doping, but if the statement he issued on Friday proved one thing, it is that he has finally resigned himself to wearing the sackcloth of the drug cheat.”
How can Armstrong show his face at future fundraisers, promotional outings and the like from this point on and put the best interests of his cancer foundation at the forefront?
The simple answer is he can’t.
And there’s no doubt that they meant well, that their intentions were pure.
That said it was a badly blown call and one wiser heads should have known better than to make.
However that was then.
Sporting’s ownership is known to be more than a little headstrong at times, and they raced into the media spotlight in recent days and said they’ll continue the partnership with Livestrong despite the controversy surrounding Armstrong and the charges levied by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
At this stage, maybe that’s the wisest course to take where the six year naming rights deal is concerned.
But only if Armstrong steps down and the organization changes its name.
Livestrong is the word or catch phrase, if you will, people associate with the organization and its mission. Armstrong’s name is tainted.
“The naming rights partnership between our stadium and Livestrong provides an opportunity to spread health and wellness messages that emphasizes the spirit of cancer survivorship,” Sporting main man Robb Heineman said last Friday. “Focus is the fight against cancer and the support of 28 million people around the world affected by this disease, and we believe strongly in this mission.”
Notice the emphasis on Livestrong not Armstrong.
For the good of his charity and it’s mission, Armstrong needs to do the right thing and step aside and the organization needs to do the obvious thing and change it’s name from Livestrong.