Updated 10/17/2012 04:55 PM
Armstrong steps down as Livestrong chair, Nike drops contract
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Lance Armstrong announced Wednesday morning he is stepping down as chairman of his Livestrong cancer-fighting charity.
Just last week, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a report detailing allegations of widespread doping by Armstrong and his teams. Armstrong strongly denies the allegations and says he quit fighting USADA because its hearing process was unfair.
Armstrong was not paid a salary as chairman and did not run day-to-day operations of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. He also will remain on the nonprofit’s board.
Current vice chairman Jeff Garvey will take over as chairman.
In a statement released today, Armstrong says, "This organization, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart."
Livestrong was founded in 1997 and has raised roughly $500 million to support cancer patients.
"In terms of how we provide service to people affected by cancer, there will be no change," Livestrong Vice President of Communications Katherine McLane said. “We have a lot of people throughout Austin and a lot of people throughout the United States who need a lot of help and we will always be there for them."
Nike announced also announced Wednesday they are dropping Armstrong, who was once a seven-time Tour de France champion, as a spokesperson.
The company posted a statement on their website saying:
"Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner."
Jody Kelly, 74, started cycling five years ago. She says the fact that Armstrong has been stripped of his titles doesn't diminish the good he's accomplished.
"He's an inspiration," she said. "Sometimes, when I'm having a tough time, like getting up that little hill there, I'll think of Lance."
Although many are disappointed in the athlete, they still admire his commitment to cancer patients.
"Well, I think he did a lot of good for a lot of people and unfortunately he made a mistake," cyclist Judy Tarochione said.
Even with all the negative publicity, Livestrong officials say current donations are higher than a year ago. The planned 15th anniversary party for the Lance Armstrong Foundation will go on as scheduled this weekend.
"In 1996, as my cancer treatment was drawing to an end, I created a foundation to serve people affected by cancer. 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.
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. And I am deeply humbled by the support our foundation has received from so many people throughout the world – survivors, world leaders, business leaders and of course, the cancer community itself. We turn to this community frequently for guidance and collaboration to achieve our shared goals. They are unfailingly generous with their wisdom and counsel and I can never thank them enough.
I have had the great honor of serving as this foundation’s chairman for the last five years and its mission and success are my top priorities. Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.
My duties will transfer to Vice Chairman Jeff Garvey who will serve as chairman. Jeff’s guidance and wisdom have been critical to shaping the foundation’s work since its earliest days. Jeff was this organization’s founding chairman and I have full confidence that under his leadership, the foundation will continue expanding its ability to serve cancer survivors.
My family and I have devoted our lives to the work of the foundation and that will not change. 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.”