Lance Armstrong, the cycling icon who is embroiled in a doping scandal that threatens his legacy, stepped down as chairman of his Livestrong cancer-fighting charity so the group, he said, can focus on its mission instead of its his vast problems.
This came just as his biggest support, Nike, severed its endorsement ties with Armstrong, according to ESPN.
All of this transpires a week after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a massive report detailing allegations of widespread doping by Armstrong and his teams when he won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005.
Armstrong, who was not paid a salary as chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, will remain on its 15-member board. His duties leading the board will be turned over to vice chairman Jeff Garvey, who was founding chairman in 1997.
“This organization, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart,” Armstrong said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press. “Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.”
USADA documentation attempts show why USADA has banned him from cycling for life and ordered 14 years of his career results erased — including those Tour titles. It contains sworn statements from 26 witnesses, including 11 former teammates. Cycling’s governing body, the International Cycling Union, or UCI, received USADA’s report last week and has 21 days to decide whether to formally ratify the decision to strip Armstrong of his Tour titles or appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.rategic planning to Garvey. He will also assume some of the public appearances and meetings that Armstrong used to handle.
Foundation spokeswoman Katherine McLane said the decision turns over the foundation’s big-picture strategic planning to Garvey. He will also assume some of the public appearances and meetings that Armstrong used to handle.
Armstrong strongly denies doping, but did not fight USADA accusations through arbitration, saying he thinks the process is unfair. Once Armstrong gave up the fight in August and the report came out, crisis management experts predicted the future of the foundation, known mainly by its Livestrong brand name, would be threatened. They said Armstrong should consider stepping down to keep the charity from getting dragged into a debate over doping.
Armstrong’s inspiring story of not only recovering from testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain but then winning the world’s best-known bike race helped his foundation grow from a small operation in Texas into one of the most popular charities in the country.